In the early 1990s, Stanford University appointed a Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE) that was charged with conducting a thorough analysis of the strengths and weaknesses in the undergraduate curriculum. The committee completed its work in 1994. Among several of the recommendations that went forward from the committee to the University Senate was the strengthening of the language requirement.
The committee argued that high school language experience alone was insufficient preparation for Stanford undergraduates. The Senate, therefore, legislated a strengthened language requirement, permitting one year of university-level language study to count toward the fulfillment of the requirement and in some cases Advanced Placement scores. The Stanford Senate also acknowledged that in order to insure that Stanford offers access to the highest quality language programs in the United States, new structures needed to be established to monitor and assess language teaching and student performances within the language departments.
Elizabeth Bernhardt was appointed Director in July of 1995 and began her duties on September 1 that year. Professor Bernhardt, whose academic appointment is in German Studies, is an applied linguist who has conducted pioneering work in comprehension assessment.