Skip to content Skip to navigation

1.2.1 University Organization

Stanford Quad and Memorial Church
Last updated on:
June 22, 2015
Formerly Known As Policy Number: 
11

This Guide Memo describes the governing organization of the University. Lists of the current names of both administrative and academic officers are published in the Stanford University Bulletin and in the Stanford University Faculty/Staff Directory.

Authority: 

This Guide Memo was approved by the President.

1. Founding of the University

a. Founding Grant
The Leland Stanford Junior University was founded by Senator and Mrs. Leland Stanford on November 11, 1885, in memory of their only child. The founding of the University was accomplished by a Grant of Endowment after Senator Stanford had procured passage on March 9, 1885, of an enabling act by the legislature of the State of California. The Founding Grant conveyed to trustees certain properties, directed that a university be established, and outlined the objectives and government of the university.

b. Amendments
The Founding Grant reserved to the Founders the right to amend the Grant. In the years following the death of Senator Stanford in 1893, Mrs. Stanford made several amendments in the form of addresses to the Board of Trustees on such points as the nonsectarian, nonpartisan nature of the University, the powers of the President, duties of the Trustees, financial management, housing on campus, gifts from others than the Founders, summer schools, research, and tuition.

c. Legislation and Court Decrees
The University operated under the Founding Grant without complications until Senator Stanford's death. However, some problems became apparent in connection with the transfer of the trust money to the Trustees, the taxation of property and revenue, and the legal status of the University. Provisions were presented to and approved by the California legislature to correct defects, and the Trustees were authorized to petition the courts for judicial decrees in matters concerning the legal status of the University and the role of the Trustees.

d. Information About the Founding
Detailed accounts of the steps taken in the founding of Stanford University, the texts of the various legal documents, and the history of the University are in the University Archives in the Green Library. The University also publishes a booklet, The Founding Grant with Amendments, Legislation, and Court Decrees, and a listing of some general works of history can be found in the bibliography of the Faculty Handbook

Back to top

2. The Board of Trustees

a. Powers and Duties
The Board of Trustees is custodian of the endowment and all the properties of the University. The Board administers the invested fund, sets the annual budget, and determines policies for operation and control of the University. The powers and duties of the Board of Trustees derive from The Founding Grant, Amendments, Legislation, and Court Decrees. In addition, the Board operates under its own bylaws and a series of resolutions of major policy.

b. Membership
Board membership is set at a maximum of 38 including the President of the University, who serves ex officio and with vote. Eight of the Trustees are elected or appointed in accordance with the Rules Governing the Election or Appointment of Alumni Nominated Trustees. All members of the Board serve five-year terms and, in general, are eligible to serve two such consecutive terms (except alumni nominated trustees, who serve one five-year term only).

c. Officers of the Board
The Officers of the Board are the chair, one or more vice chairs, the secretary, and the associate secretary. Officers are elected to one-year terms, with the exception of the Chair, who serves a two-year term. Their terms of office begin July 1.

d. Committees
The six standing committees of the Board are the Committee on Audit, Compliance and Risk; the Committee on Development; the Committee on Finance; the Committee on Land and Buildings; the Committee on Student, Alumni and External Affairs; and the Committee on Trusteeship. Standing committees meet prior to each regular Board meeting unless otherwise directed by the Chair.

e. Meetings
The Board generally meets five times each year, in October, December, February, April and June. Meetings are normally on the second Tuesday of the month.

Back to top

3. The President

a. Appointment
Among the powers given to the Trustees by the Founding Grant is the power and duty to appoint a President of the University, who shall not at the time of appointment be one of their number, and to remove him or her at will. In accordance with the by-laws of the Board of Trustees, the President of the University shall be appointed or removed only by the affirmative vote of a majority of the Board of Trustees.

b. Powers and Duties
The by-laws and resolutions of the Board of Trustees set forth the following duties of the President of the University in addition to those he derives from the Founding Grant or by office:

  • "He shall be responsible for the management of the University and all its departments, including the operation of the physical plant and the administration of the University's business activities."
  • "The President shall report to the Board at each regular meeting on problems and progress of the University, and he shall make recommendations for action."
  • "In conformance with general objectives approved by the Board, he shall be responsible for preparation of the annual University operating budget and other annual budgets as specified. He shall submit these budgets to the Board for review and subsequent action and shall submit periodic reports to the Board on the status of plans and projections basic to preparation of budgets for succeeding years."

c. Appointment of Staff
To assist in the performance of presidential duties, the President of the University, with the approval of the Board, appoints and prescribes the powers and duties of a Provost, a Vice President for Business Affairs and Chief Financial Officer, a Vice President for Medical Affairs, a Vice President for Development, and a General Counsel. The President of the University, with the approval of the Board, may appoint and prescribe the powers and duties of other officers and employees as the President may deem proper.

d. Absence or Inability to Act
In the absence or inability to act of the President, the Provost shall be Acting President and shall perform the duties of the President of the University. If both the President and the Provost are unable to act or otherwise believe the circumstances warrant, the President (or Provost when functioning as President) may designate one or more persons to act on the President's behalf. In emergencies, the Chair of the Board of Trustees may designate one or more persons to act on the President's behalf or as Acting President and, if the tenure exceeds 30 days, such designation must be confirmed by the Board.

Back to top

4. The Provost

a. Responsibilities
The Provost, as the chief academic and budget officer, administers the academic program (instruction and research in schools and other unaffiliated units) and University services in support of the academic program (student affairs, libraries, information resources, and institutional planning). In the absence or inability of the President to act, the Provost becomes the Acting President of the University.

b. Principal Staff
The principal staff officers of the Provost are shown in the organization chart in Guide Memo 9.2.1.

Back to top

5. The University Cabinet

a. Membership
Chaired by the President, membership of the University Cabinet includes the Provost, Deans of the seven Schools, the Vice Provost and Dean of Research, the Director of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the Director of the Hoover Institution, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, and the Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

b. Responsibilities
The primary function of the University Cabinet is to recommend and review principles, policies, and rules of University-wide significance. Its purpose is to assure the centrality of academic objectives in the work of the University. The President and the Provost seek the Cabinet's advice on issues of University direction, policy and planning including but not limited to:

  • Long range planning for faculty and academic program development
  • Strategic planning on financial, facilities and fund-raising matters
  • Faculty and student affairs
  • Personnel policies

The Cabinet advises the President and Provost on other matters as appropriate.

Back to top