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COVID-19 Update

Stanford Memorial Church is currently closed for tours and visits. The Church is open for scheduled religious observances, weddings, memorials, concerts, and events. For more information, please see our listing of events.

Banner image for the "Rathbun Programs" section featuring 3 images: a photo of Emilia and Harry standing outside of the memorial church, a later photo of the Rathbuns that is a close up shot of their faces, and a photo detail of one of the Memorial Church stained glass windows.

Crafting a Meaningful Life

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Harry and Emilia Rathbun Fund for Exploring What Leads to a Meaningful Life

In this day and age when students are increasingly knowledgeable through classroom training and the demands of specializing are intense, students are thirsty for true wisdom. The Rathbun Fund has created both a timeless and timely opportunity to help Stanford deepen the student experience with a focus on thoughtful inquiry, the pursuit of happiness, and a dedication to making the world a better place.

Stanford is ideally suited for this opportunity, given its preeminence in educating world leaders and the emphasis of the university’s founding grant both on public welfare and “qualifying students for personal success and direct usefulness in life.” Leland and Jane Stanford, who were religious, but not committed to any denomination, decreed that the church would stand at the center of campus and also be non-sectarian. Adopting such a philosophy, they felt, would permit the church to serve the broadest spiritual needs of the entire university community—religious and nonreligious. The Stanfords also saw spiritual and moral values as essential to a young person’s education and future citizenship. As such, Stanford’s Office for Religious & Spiritual Life is located in the center of campus and, as one of only a few university-wide offices, plays a significant role as a convener for all members of the Stanford community, across schools and disciplines.


2022 Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor

Leading a Meaningful Life: Marshall Ganz

Wednesday, May 4, 2022, at Memorial Church, 12:00 - 1:00 pm

Join us in historical Memorial Church as Marshall Ganz shares insight into his personal values, beliefs, and motivations in order to gain a deeper understanding of life’s meaning. Q&A with the audience will follow.

Educator, organizer, and author Marshall Ganz is the Rita E. Hauser Senior Lecturer in Leadership, Organizing and Civil Society at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches, researches, and writes on leadership, narrative, strategy, and organization in social movements, civic associations, and politics. As a young man, he spent 16 years with the United Farm Workers, gaining experience in union, political, and community organizing and serving on the national executive board. Later he worked with grassroots groups to develop new organizing programs and designed innovative voter mobilization strategies for local, state, and national electoral campaigns. He was instrumental in the design of the grassroots organization for the 2008 Obama for President campaign.

Livestream will be available on the ORSL Youtube Channel.

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About Harry and Emilia Rathbun

Find out more about the personal story of Harry and Emilia Rathbun. 

The Dalai Lama spoke at a medical school panel on Neuroscience and Buddhism at Memorial Auditorium. Credit: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

Rathbun Program Offerings

Explore the different types of programs offered through this dynamic program 

Rathbun Activism Summit

In the spirit of Harry and Emilia Rathbun’s work to advance Stanford students’ development as citizens of the world, we gathered virtually for conversations, panels and experiences with activists who are tackling the issues impacting their lives and futures, such as racial injustice, climate change, gun violence, and gender and LBGTQ equality.