‘A particular demographic’: Presidential search committee addresses diversity concerns

Presidential Search Committee (PSC) undergraduate representative Senkai Hsia ’24 M.S. ’25 addressed concerns of diversity regarding incoming president Jonathan Levin ’94, at the Undergraduate Senate’s (UGS) meeting on Tuesday.

UGS co-chair Diego Kagurabadza ’25 said there were concerns among the Stanford community over “demographic trends in the selection of University presidents” and asked Hsia what role diversity had played in the selection process. Levin, whose presidency was announced Thursday, is the 13th white man to lead the University. 

According to Hsia, who is a former member of The Daily’s editorial board, the Search Committee itself was “diverse” and spent “thousands of hours” evaluating a pool of 800 candidates. Amid leadership turmoil at Stanford and other higher education institutions, Hsia emphasized the Committee’s “due diligence” in the search.

“Our job was to find the best person to lead Stanford, and that has to be irrespective of their background or religion or any other immutable characteristic,” Hsia said. “And at the end of the day, Jon, through this process, was unanimously the best person to do the job.”

Hsia acknowledged that past Stanford presidents came from “a particular demographic,” but said the Committee ensured that Levin understood the importance of diversity at Stanford. According to Hsia, Levin has a history of “uplifting” student communities as dean of the Graduate School of Business (GSB), citing the publication of the school’s first diversity report and the increase in diversity under Levin’s leadership.

Hsia said he is “excited” about Levin’s character and “unimpeachable integrity.”

“The guy is so relentlessly optimistic. He is also so deeply humble, has incredible intellect and he’s one of us,” Hsia said. 

The UGS also approved over $60,000 in funding across 35 grants and discussed the revival of a longtime Stanford tradition, FLiCKS. Free movies will be shown in CEMEX Auditorium “basically every Sunday night” of spring quarter, said Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) President Sophia Danielpour ’24.

The first showing will be “Saltburn” on April 14, and FLiCKS will continue next year pending funding, Danielpour said.