News Briefs

Photo: Courtesy of Stanford University Medical Center

MED CENTER OVERHAUL BEGINS

The two-year initial phase of the Stanford Medical Center Renewal Project is under way after final approval from the Palo Alto City Council. Site preparation including road and utility upgrades will lead the way for $3 billion in new and expanded facilities. The next Stanford Hospital will supplant physicians' offices and a parking structure off Welch Road and Pasteur Drive.

What about the current hospital, which dates to 1959 and stokes decades of memories for patients, families, doctors, nurses and other employees? It eventually will be torn down—the new facility isn't expected to be in full service until 2018—and new clinics will take up that site.

TEACHING SCIENCE BETTER

QuinnPhoto: Dan Quinn

A National Academy of Sciences committee says learning by doing is key to more effective science education in grades K-12. The committee, chaired by Helen Quinn, PhD '67, professor emerita of physics and astrophysics at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, issued a July report recommending core ideas and practices all students should learn. The hope is to foster new common standards in most states.

In an interview published by SLAC, Quinn said "the understanding that students should be doing science to learn science has sometimes been overwhelmed by the notion that that was just messing around, and that children really needed to be learning facts." But research indicates that students learn more "when they have a context in which to put those facts . . . and where they get to understand what science is by engaging in scientific practices." A nonprofit group, Achieve, will begin working with a test group of states to design ways to implement the new standards.

CHANGE AT CANTOR

SeligmanPhoto: Fred Mertz

Thomas Seligman racked up many formidable accomplishments in 20 years at the helm of the Stanford Museum and Cantor Arts Center. But he never succeeded in acquiring a haiku version of Cantor's mission statement.

"I wanted the metaphor, I wanted the poetry," says Seligman, who will retire as director at year's end. His reflections include a heightened awareness of the arts as a counterweight to "discourse that is reduced to almost the lowest common denominator" in business, education, media and politics. "Where is the haiku in this?" he asks, as if it's now his standing question.

In some ways, Stanford's arts initiative builds on the boldness that has been a Seligman hallmark, particularly in his support for creative risk-taking by staff. Still, history will likely focus on his rescue of the museum, closed by damage from the 1989 earthquake, and its revival as the larger Cantor Arts Center with its expanded holdings and educational outreach.

WolfPhoto: Kira Shemano

Connie Wolf says she feels pulled to Stanford in the same way she expects legions of others will amid recent developments in the arts. (See article.) "Thrilling" is how she describes her appointment as the next director of the Cantor Arts Center.

As the director and CEO of the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco since 1999, Wolf made a point of collaborating with the Stanford arts community; she considered it a prime civic resource. The University's current arts push, she says, will magnify that public relevance, spotlighting Cantor and other campus destinations as "places for everybody."

Her January 1 starting date is really a return. Wolf, '81, majored in East Asian studies and happily operated the slide projector for the art history department. She worked at the Whitney Museum for American Art in New York before leading the Jewish Museum in a dramatic expansion that included an acclaimed new building.