MIT OF THE WEST? ... Is Stanford getting a reputation as the "MIT of the West?" Stanford philosopher Debra Satz, a popular teacher and senior associate dean for the humanities and arts, worries that this reputation could deter talented students in the humanities. One strategy to broaden the image is to invite talented, humanities-oriented high school students to attend a summer program at Stanford — possibly leading them later to apply for undergraduate study in something besides engineering. This year Satz launched the Summer Humanities Institute, in which 50 high school students from across the country immersed themselves in the American and French revolutions. The Cost of the three-week institute, which ended July 13, was $5,150, but funding from the School of Humanities and Sciences and the provost's office enabled the program to offer "need-blind admission," Stanford said.
WHAT MAKES ME TICK ... Hey, high school seniors out there, it's college-essay time! Twenty-seven Gunn and Palo Alto high school students assembled this past week to get a jump on the task of trying to explain themselves, in writing, to admissions officers. The goal by week's end was to have working drafts of the Common Application essay as well as "clear direction for how to work on UC and supplemental essays," said Paly English teacher Shirley Tokheim, who led the group. The class was part of a stated effort by the school district to boost support for seniors writing their college essays. In the past, that work has been done in some English classes, at the discretion of the teacher. This fall, at least at Paly, an after-school essay-writing workshop will be offered and essay-writing help also will be available on College Awareness Day, scheduled for Oct 17, Tokheim said.
PLANNING AHEAD ... Palo Alto's Planning and Transportation Commission will exchange institutional knowledge for fresh eyes next month, when Vice Chair Susan Fineberg concludes her tenure on the famously thorough and painstakingly detail-oriented board. Fineberg is best known for her encyclopedic knowledge of the Comprehensive Plan and a general skepticism toward major new developments that could impact existing neighborhoods. On Monday, the City Council voted 6-3 to appoint Michael Alcheck, a real-estate attorney who works as general counsel for the Loyola Management Company, as its newest commissioner. According to his application, Alcheck is involved in the San Francisco chapter of Urban Land Institute and sits on the San Francisco board of directors of the Jewish Community Relations Council. At a prior meeting, both Fineberg and Alcheck received four council votes. This week, with all nine council members present, Alcheck received six votes (Karen Holman, Greg Schmid and Yiaway Yeh voted for Fineberg). His isn't the only new face that will soon be making its commission debut. Earlier in the month, the council named Alex Panelli to replace architect Dan Garber, who recently stepped down to work on the proposed office-and-theater development near the downtown Caltrain station.