Windhover is a spiritual refuge on the Stanford University campus meant to both inspire and promote personal renewal. Named for the series of paintings by Nathan Oliveira that grace its walls, Windhover provides an environment for quiet reflection throughout the day for Stanford students, faculty, and staff.
Stanford understands the unique pressures that faculty, staff, and especially students face at a highly competitive university. By offering easy access to a venue explicitly devoted to relieving stress and invigorating the spirit, without explicit religious reference, the university hopes that its community members will become happier and more productive.
Windhover embodies the message that, in the 21st century, the quality of intellectual endeavor is directly linked to the fulfillment of emotional and spiritual needs. The hope is that the environment will be appreciated not just for what one sees, but how one feels and how that experience contributes to overall well-being. The university envisions that community members will visit regularly to replenish their inner spirits—the source of their creativity, energy, and endurance.
Windhover is not intended to replace a visit to Memorial Church, the Center for Inter-Religious Community, Learning and Experiences, a walk in the Rodin Sculpture Garden, a hike up to the Dish, a visit to the Cantor Center for Visual arts, or lunch under the eucalyptus trees. For many community members, however, this will be their sanctuary—a place to re-establish balance and find tranquility. For those who choose to visit, Windhover is intended to offset the personal cost that can be entailed by students, faculty, and staff striving to reach the pinnacle of their fields.
Nathan Oliveira’s renowned Windhover series is named after “The Windhover,” a poem written in 1877 by Gerard Manley Hopkins. The five paintings were inspired by kestrels swooping above the Stanford foothills. Oliveira felt the calming power of these works and believed they should hang together in a place set aside for contemplation. In 1995, Suzanne Sumerlin Duca, a former lecturer on art and art history and collector of Oliveira’s work, stepped forward to ensure his vision could be realized at Stanford.
For nearly two decades, Duca, the university, and a devoted group of volunteers worked to build support for Windhover, identify a suitable site, and select an architectural design. Unfortunately, Oliveira did not live to see Windhover completed. After his death in 2010, his son, Joseph Oliveira, took his place in working with the committee.
Reece Duca, MBA ’68, helped guide the purpose of this contemplative space as a retreat from everyday pressures. Van L., ’52, MBA ’54, and Diana Huston Brady, ’53, generous patrons of the project from the beginning, were instrumental in Windhover’s success. Sheila M. Duignan, ’81, and Michael I. Wilkins, ’81, MBA ’85, also provided financial support, and Lita-Nadine Quetnick, ’73, a former student of Oliveira’s, served as a volunteer. Windhover would not exist without their support.
On October 8, 2014, a private dedication was held for Windhover prior to the official opening of the building to the student body the next day. Click on the link below for text of the speeches from the dedication ceremony.