The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university located in Stanford, California, United States with a strong emphasis on scientific, technological and social science research. The university is located on an campus in northwestern Santa Clara Valley approximately northwest of San Jose and southeast of San Francisco.
Leland Stanford, a Californian railroad tycoon and politician, founded the university in 1891 in honor of his son, Leland Stanford, Jr. who died of typhoid at the age of 16. The university was established as a coeducational and nondenominational institution, but struggled financially after the senior Stanford's 1893 death and much of the campus was damaged by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Following World War II, Provost Frederick Terman supported faculty and graduates' entrepreneurialism to build self-sufficient local industry in what would become known as Silicon Valley. By 1970, Stanford was home to a linear accelerator, one of the original four ARPANET nodes, and had transformed itself into a major research university in computer science, mathematics, natural sciences, and social sciences. More than 50 Stanford faculty, staff and alumni have won the Nobel Prize (list of Nobel Laureates by university affiliation). Stanford also boasts the largest number of Turing award winners for a single institution. Stanford faculty and alumni have founded many prominent technology companies, including Cisco Systems, Electronic Arts, Google, Hewlett-Packard, LinkedIn, Sun Microsystems, and Yahoo!.
The university is organized into seven schools including academic schools of Humanities and Sciences and Earth Sciences as well as professional schools of Business, Education, Engineering, Law, and Medicine. Stanford has a student body of approximately 6,900 undergraduate and 8,400 graduate students. Stanford is a founding member of the Association of American Universities and managed US$1.15 billion in research funding and $15.9 billion in endowment support in 2010.
Stanford competes in 34 varsity sports and is one of two private universities in the NCAA Division I-A Pacific-10 Conference. The University of California, Berkeley ("Cal") is Stanford's traditional rival, and the two football teams compete annually in the "Big Game". Stanford's athletic program has won the NACDA Directors' Cup every year since 1995. In the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Stanford athletes won 25 medals, including 8 gold medals, more than any other university in the United States.
Stanford was founded by Leland Stanford, a railroad magnate, United States Senator, and former California Governor, and his wife, Jane Stanford. It is named in honor of their only child, Leland Stanford, Jr., who died in 1884 just before his 16th birthday. His parents decided to dedicate a university to their only son, and Leland Stanford told his wife, "The children of California shall be our children."
Senator and Mrs. Stanford visited Harvard's President Eliot and asked how much it would cost to duplicate Harvard in California. Eliot replied that he supposed $15 million would be enough. However, the Stanfords were gracefully rebuffed in securing A.D. White, the president of Cornell University, as Stanford's founding president. Instead, White recommended David Starr Jordan, White's former student and the president of Indiana University. He was their eventual choice to direct Stanford, although they had offered leaders of the Ivy League twice his salary.
Locals and members of the university community are known to refer to the school as The Farm, a nod to the fact that the university is located on the former site of Leland Stanford's horse farm.
The motto of Stanford University, selected by President Jordan, is "Die Luft der Freiheit weht." Translated from the German, this quotation from Ulrich von Hutten means "The wind of freedom blows." The motto was controversial during World War I, when anything in German was suspect; at that time the university disavowed that this motto was official.
The university's founding Grant of Endowment from Leland and Jane Stanford was written on November 11, 1885, and accepted by the first Board of Trustees on November 14. Besides defining the operational structure of the University, the Grant of Endowment made several specific stipulations: "The Trustees ... shall have the power and it shall be their duty:
The cornerstone was laid on May 14, 1887, and after six years of planning and building, the university officially opened on October 1, 1891, to 559 students and 15 faculty members, seven of them from Cornell. When the school opened, students were not charged for tuition, a program which lasted into the 1930s. Among the first class of students was a young future president Herbert Hoover, who would claim to be the first student ever at Stanford, by virtue of having been the first person in the first class to sleep in the dormitory.
The school was established as a coeducational institution. However, Jane Stanford soon put a policy in place limiting female enrollment to 500 students because of the large number of women students enrolling. She did not want the school to become "the Vassar of the West" because she felt that would not be an appropriate memorial for her son. In 1933 the policy was modified to specify an undergraduate male:female ratio of 3:1. The "Stanford ratio" of 3:1 remained in place until the early 1960s. By the late 1960s the "ratio" was about 2:1 for undergraduates, but much more skewed at the graduate level, except in the humanities. As of 2005, undergraduate enrollment is split nearly evenly between the sexes, but males outnumber females about 2:1 at the graduate level.
When Senator Stanford died in 1893, the continued existence of the university was in jeopardy. A $15 million government lawsuit against Senator Stanford's estate, combined with the Panic of 1893, made it extremely difficult to meet expenses. Most of the Board of Trustees advised a temporary closing until finances could be sorted out. However, Jane Stanford insisted that the university remain in operation. Faced with the possibility of financial ruin for the University she took charge of financial, administrative, and development matters at the university 1893-1905; from her experience as a mother and housewife, she ran the institution as a household. For the next several years, she paid salaries out of her personal resources, even pawning her jewelry to keep the university going. When the lawsuit was finally dropped in 1895, a university holiday was declared.
Jane Stanford's actions were sometimes eccentric. In 1897, she directed the board of trustees "that the students be taught that everyone born on earth has a soul germ, and that on its development depends much in life here and everything in Life Eternal". She forbade students from sketching nude models in life-drawing class, banned automobiles from campus, and did not allow a hospital to be constructed so that people would not form an impression that Stanford was unhealthy. Between 1899 and 1905, she spent $3 million on a grand construction scheme building lavish memorials to the Stanford family, while university faculty and self-supporting students were living in poverty.