(Joyce) #1

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S+B: Most university ex-presidents are content to go back to teaching or
writing. Why did you decide to start this program?
HENNESSY: After stepping down as president, I was convinced by one of my
colleagues that I wouldn’t be happy with just [joining] three or four boards
and doing a little teaching. I had become increasingly concerned about the
growing leadership void. And not just in government. [I was concerned about
how we behaved on] the corporate
side, the whole way we behaved in
the financial crisis, and in some cases
on the nonprofit side. And since I’m
a lifelong educator, I thought maybe
I could bring together a cohort of
extremely capable, smart people who
are dedicated to a different vision for
how to be a great leader, and provide them with a great Stanford graduate
education, but also provide them with the opportunity to develop their
leadership and collaborative skills, and hopefully produce people who 20 years
from now will really do great things. Today, they’re MBAs, JDs, Ph.D.s, MDs,
and master’s degree students who get their tuition [covered] and a stipend for
their living expenses. There were 51 in the first class in 2018, the 2019 class
has 68, and we’re on a slow trajectory to 100 in a class.
S+B: Given all the challenges surrounding trust and privacy that have
come up with the rampant spread of technology, do you think we need to
infuse our STEM education with more study and appreciation of the
lessons of the humanities?
HENNESSY: I am absolutely a believer in the liberal arts education. Some of the
most valuable courses I had were not the technical courses, but courses in
philosophy and logic where we addressed issues about truth and ethics. It’s one
of the reasons that Stanford has an ethical reasoning requirement for every
student. These classes are actually taught around the university by different
groups of faculty according to the field. I tell students that the purpose of ethical
reasoning isn’t to solve all of your ethical dilemmas for the rest of your life. The
“Some of the most valuable
courses I had were not
the technical courses,
but courses in philosophy
and logic.”

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