People and Places

Stanford — I will work for you

Posted on September 1, 2013

Dear Stanford Board of Trustees,

I am writing to offer my services.  I know John Hennessy has been a remarkably good president for you, but if he is thinking of a change, you should know that I can be available.  Sure, I lack exprience with research universities, D-I big time athletics, and running a sprawling, complex place like Stanford.  And yes, I don’t have the blue chip pedigree that a place like Stanford really demands.  I can understand your reluctance.

Perhaps there are other things I can do.

I paid my way through college building decks and reroofing houses.  Surely, with your climate, you could use some decks.  I can build a damn fine deck.

As an amatuer gardener, I’d welcome an opportunity with your landscape crew.  I mean, it’s California.  You must be able to grow just about anything.  How hard can it be?

While no chef, I love to cook.  Plus you guys get amazing produce year around.  Maybe I can cook for you all.

I know, you’re probably wondering what sparked this unusual inquiry.  After all, I have a pretty great job at a school I love.  Our students make me smile – -they’re great, whether the 17-year-olds moving onto campus today or the adults studying online or our military students deployed half way round the world.  We’re growing like crazy (single fastest growing institution in the country last year) and doing all sorts of inventive things.  Heck, even President Obama mentioned us last week in his big higher education speech.  Did he mention Stanford?  No, I didn’t think so.

No, my seeking work with you is based on something more close to the heart.  Yesterday, our baby (she may be 23, but she’s still our “baby”) packed up her car and headed west to begin her doctoral studies with you.  We are looking at something like six or seven years of her being 3,000 miles away.  Stanford is exactly the right choice for her and we’re incredibly proud, but we’ll miss her proximity, the easy getting together for a dinner, and the note of grace she brings to every day.

This coming and going is hard (well, at least the second part).  Today I’ll have deeper sympathy than usual for those moms and dads dropping their first year students off at SNHU.  Hell, yesterday I was so emotional I was tearing up at oil company ads.  What an odd thing parenting is.  If you do it really well — creating confident, independent, and ambitious young adults — which you love more than anything in the world…..they leave you. 

We’ve done enough of these now to also know they come back and that life with children who are smart, funny, young adults is just delightful.  But each of those good-byes, at least for a day or two, breaks our hearts a little bit. 

I tried everything I knew to dissuade Hannah that CA would be a good place to live.  I mentioned earthquakes, forest fires, mud slides, race riots, and weird serial killers.  I talked about the ways life on the west coast would meaning losing her edge and how she’d use “awesome” to describe everything and forget what all New Englanders know, that if things are going well (the weather, the Red Sox, a job), something bad must surely be coming.  None of it worked and your awesome university will be great for her.  She’ll be great for it.

But on this day, Stanford feels awfuly far away.

So please do let me know if you have a place for me. 


Paul LeBlanc

One thought on “Stanford — I will work for you

  1. Bill Gillett says:

    We need to replace our deck up on the lake and three of our four are off at college as well. Are you free next week-end?

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