Stanford University

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Stanford University
Official Seal of Stanford University
Motto Die Luft der Freiheit weht
(The wind of freedom blows)
Established 1891
School type Private
President John L. Hennessy
Location Stanford, California, USA
Campus Suburban, 8,180 acres (33.1 km²)
Enrollment 6,654 undergraduate,
7,800 graduate
Faculty 1,749
Mascot Stanford Tree (unofficial)
Endowment US$12.4 billion
Official website
For other meanings of Stanford, see Stanford (disambiguation).

The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly known as Stanford University (or simply Stanford), is a privately-funded American university in Stanford, California. Located approximately 37 miles (60 kilometers) southeast of San Francisco in an unincorporated part of Santa Clara County adjacent to the city of Palo Alto, Stanford lies at the heart of the Silicon Valley, both geographically and historically.

Situated on an expansive and picturesque campus in suburban California, Stanford University offers comprehensive, world-class undergraduate and graduate education programs as well as hosting a renowned medical center and a wide variety of research facilities and community outreach projects.



Stanford was founded by railroad magnate and California Governor Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane Stanford. It is named in honor of their son, Leland Stanford, Jr., who died of typhoid as a teenager. Locals and university affiliates are known to refer to the school as The Farm, a nod to the institution's origins as a horse farm.

The University's founding grant was written on November 11, 1885, and accepted by the first Board of Trustees on November 14. The cornerstone was laid on May 14, 1887, and the University officially opened on October 1, 1891, to 559 students, with free tuition and fifteen faculty members, seven of whom hailed from Cornell University. The school was established as a coeducational institution although it maintained a cap on female enrollment for many years and continues to have predominantly male enrollment in many strategic areas, such as engineering and computer science.

The official motto of Stanford University, selected by the Stanfords, is "Die Luft der Freiheit weht." When loosely translated from the Latin, by way of German, the quote from Ulrich von Hutten means "The winds of freedom blow." At the time of the school's establishment, German had recently replaced Latin as the dominant language of science and philosophy (a position it would hold until World War II).


Aerial photo of the Stanford campus

Stanford University owns 8,180 acres (32 km²), making it the second largest university campus in the world. The main campus is bounded by El Camino Real, Stanford Avenue, Junipero Serra Boulevard and Sand Hill Road, in the center of the Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula.

In the summer of 1886, when the campus was first being planned, Stanford brought the president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Francis Amasa Walker, and prominent Boston landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted westward for consultations. Olmsted worked out the general concept for the campus and its buildings, rejecting a hillside site in favor of the more practical flatlands. Charles Allerton Coolidge then developed this concept in the style of his late mentor, Henry Hobson Richardson, in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, characterized by rectangular stone buildings linked by arcades of half-circle arches.

Much of this first construction was destroyed by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake but the University retains the Quad, the old Chemistry Building (which is currently unoccupied) and Encina Hall (reportedly the residence of John Steinbeck during his time at Stanford). After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake inflicted further damage, the University implemented a billion-dollar capital improvement plan to retrofit and renovate older buildings for new, up-to-date uses.

Many of the modern buildings were designed in the Spanish-colonial style common to California, with red tile roofs and white stucco exteriors, which gives the campus a uniform yet distinctly Californian look that many find aesthetically pleasing—the red tile roofs and bright blue skies common to the region are a famously complementary combination. The University has its own golf course and a seasonal lake (Lagunita), both home to the endangered California Tiger Salamander.

The off-campus Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve is a nature reserve owned by the university and used by wildlife biologists for research. Hopkins Marine Station, located in Pacific Grove, California, is a marine biology research center owned by the university since 1892.

Contemporary campus landmarks include the Stanford Quad and Memorial Church, the art museum and art gallery, the Stanford Mausoleum and the Angel of Grief, Hoover Tower, the Rodin sculpture garden, the Papua New Guinea sculpture garden, the Arizona Cactus Garden, Green Library and the Dish. Frank Lloyd Wright's 1937 Hanna House, and the 1919 Lou Henry and Herbert Hoover House, are both National Historic Landmarks now on university grounds.


Inner Quad opposite Memorial Church

Besides the university, the Stanford trustees oversee Stanford Research Park, the Stanford Shopping Center, the Stanford University Museum of Art, Stanford University Medical Center and many associated medical facilities (including the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital), as well as many acres of undeveloped foothills.

Other Stanford-affiliated institutions include the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and the Stanford Research Institute, a now-independent institution which originated at the University.

Stanford also houses the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, a major public policy think tank that attracts visiting scholars from around the world, and the Stanford Institute for International Studies, which is dedicated to the more specific study of international relations.

The Stanford University Libraries hold a collection of more than eight million volumes. The main library in the SU library system is Green Library. Meyer Library holds the East Asia collection and the student-accessible media resources. Other significant collections include the Lane Medical Library, Jackson Business Library, Falconer Biology Library, Cubberley Education Library, Branner Earth Sciences Library, Swain Chemistry and Chem-E Library, Jonsson Government Documents collection, Crown Law Library, the Stanford Auxiliary Library (SAL), the SLAC Library, the Hoover library, the Marine Biology Library at Hopkins Marine Station, the Music Library, and the University's special collections.

Digital libraries and text services include HighWire Press, the Humanities Digital Information Services group and the Media Microtext Center. Several academic departments and some residences also have their own libraries.

Stanford University student traditions include Full Moon on the Quad, Sunday Flicks, steam-tunnelling, Primal Scream (heard by stressed students at night during finals week) and Viennese Ball, which was started in the 1970's by students returning from the now defunct Stanford in Vienna program. Other old traditions, some of which have ended, include the Big Game bonfire at Lake Lagunita, and the Halloween party at the Stanford family mausoleum.


Walkway near the Quad

The University enrolls approximately 6,700 undergraduates and 8,000 grad students. Stanford has a reputation among students as being a relaxed, fun-loving, warm-weather alternative to the Ivy League schools of the east coast, yet is often called the "Harvard of the West". The schools of the University include the School of Humanities and Sciences, School of Engineering, School of Earth Sciences, School of Education, Graduate School of Business, Stanford Law School and the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Admission is extremely competitive, and according to The Atlantic Monthly, it is the sixth-most selective college in the United States (after MIT, Princeton, Caltech, Yale and Harvard). It is currently ranked #6 in the nation by both 2005 U.S. News & World Report and the 2005 Washington Monthly national colleges rankings. In 2005, Stanford's undergraduate admission rate was 12.6 percent, from a pool of 19,000 applicants.

The University has approximately 1,700 faculty members, including 17 Nobel laureates and 23 MacArthur fellows. The largest part of the faculty (40 percent) are affiliated with the medical school, while a third serve in the School of Humanities and Sciences. Stanford University's PhD programs and faculty are ranked as one of the best in the world by faculty in peer institutitions, and also by several ranking agencies and institutes [1].

Stanford awards the following degrees: B.A., B.S., B.A.S., M.A., M.S., Ph.D., D.M.A., Ed.D., Ed.S., M.D., M.B.A., J.D., J.S.D., J.S.M., LL.M., M.A.T., M.F.A., M.L.S., M.L.A., and ENG.

Stanford built its international reputation as the pioneering Silicon Valley institution through top programs in engineering and the sciences, spawning such companies as Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, Yahoo!, Google, and Sun Microsystems— indeed, "Sun" originally stood for "Stanford University Network." The university also offers world-class programs in the humanities, particularly creative writing, history, government, economics, and psychology.

University leadership

Stanford University is govered by a board of trustees, in conjuction with the university president and provosts and the deans of the various schools.


  1. David Starr Jordan (1891-1913)
  2. John Casper Branner (1913-1915)
  3. Ray Lyman Wilbur (1916-1943)
  4. Donald Bertrand Tresidder (1943-1948)
  5. J. E. Wallace Sterling (1949-1968)
  6. Kenneth Sanborn Pitzer (1968-1970)
  7. Richard Wall Lyman (1970-1980)
  8. Donald Kennedy (1980-1992)
  9. Gerhard Casper (1992-2000)
  10. John L. Hennessy (2000-present)


The position of Provost was created in 1952 during the Presidency of J. E. Wallace Sterling. Many people consider the Stanford Provost to be the "heir apparent" to the President because of the five men who succeeded Sterling as President, three were Provost of Stanford (Lyman, Kennedy, and Hennessy), one was Provost of the University of Chicago (Casper), while the other was President of Rice University (Pitzer). The Provost is the University's chief academic and budget officer. The Provost and the President together conduct Stanford's relationships with the neighboring community and other schools and organizations.

  1. Douglas M. Whitaker (1952-1955)
  2. Frederick E. Terman (1955-1965)
  3. Richard Wall Lyman (1967-1970)
  4. William F. Miller (1971-1978)
  5. Gerald J. Lieberman (1979-1979)
  6. Donald Kennedy (1979-1980)
  7. Albert M. Hastorf (1980-1984)
  8. James N. Rosse (1984-1992)
  9. Gerald J. Lieberman (1992-1993)
  10. Condoleezza Rice (1993-1999)
  11. John L. Hennessy (1999-2000)
  12. John W. Etchemendy (2000-present)

Notable alumni and faculty

Stanford arts

Stanford has a thriving artistic and musical community, including theater groups, such as Ram's Head, and a capella music groups, such as Stanford's oldest group, the Stanford Mendicants.

The creative writing program is well-known and brings promising young writers to campus via the Stegner Fellowships and other graduate scholarship programs. This Boy's Life author Tobias Wolff teaches writing to undergraduates and graduate students.

Stanford athletics

Official Logo of Stanford Athletics

Stanford participates in the NCAA's Division I-A and forms part of the Pacific Ten Conference. It also has membership in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation for indoor track (men and women), water polo (men and women), women's gymnastics, women's lacrosse, men's gymnastics, and men's volleyball. Stanford's traditional sports rival is Cal.

Stanford has won the NACDA Director's Cup (formerly known as the Sears Cup) every year for the past eleven years (the award has been offered the past twelve years), honoring the first-ranked collegiate athletic program in the United States. Stanford has earned 89 NCAA National Titles since its establishment (2nd most by any university), 70 NCAA National Titles since 1980 (most by any university), and 386 individual NCAA championships (most by any university). Stanford athletes have won 47 Olympic medals since 1990, and if Stanford were a country in the 1996 Olympics, it would have placed 7th in medal count.

Stanford offers 34 varsity sports (18 female, 15 male, one coed), 19 club sports and 37 intramural sports—about 800 students participate in intercollegiate sports. The University offers about 300 athletic scholarships.

The winner of the annual "Big Game" between the Cal and Stanford football teams gains custody of the Axe. Stanford's football team played in the first Rose Bowl in 1902. Stanford won back-to-back Rose Bowls in 1971 and 1972. Stanford has played in 12 Rose Bowls, most recently in 2000. Stanford's Jim Plunkett won the Heisman Trophy in 1970.

Until 1930, Stanford did not have a "mascot" name for its athletic teams. In that year, the athletic department adopted the name "Indians." In 1972, "Indians" was dropped after a complaint of racial insensitivity was lodged by American Indian students at Stanford. The Stanford sports teams are now officially referred to as the Stanford Cardinal (the bright red color, not the bird), but the band's mascot, "The Tree", has become associated with the school in general. Part of Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB), the tree symbol derives from the El Palo Alto redwood tree on the Stanford and City of Palo Alto seals.

Stanford hosts an annual US Open Series tennis tournament (Bank of the West Classic) at Taube Stadium. Cobb Track, Angell Field, and Avery Stadium Pool are considered world-class athletic facilities. Stanford athletes are also world class; fifteen athletes affiliated with Stanford University participated in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, winning a total of seventeen medals.

Stanford club sports

Club sports, while not officially a part of Stanford athletics, are numerous at Stanford. Sports include archery, badminton, cricket, cycling, equestrian, ice hockey, judo, kayaking, men's lacrosse, polo, rugby, squash, skiing, taekwondo, triathlon and Ultimate Frisbee, and in some cases the teams have historically performed quite well. For instance, the men's Ultimate Frisbee team won a nation championship in 2002, and the women's team won in 2003 and 2004.

Notable Stanford athletes


  • Many people erroneously think that the plural of "Cardinal" is "Cardinals." The word "Cardinal" is used both singularly and plurally; it refers to the color, not the bird.
  • Notable Japanese economist Kazuhide Uekusa was working in the Hoover Institution from October, 1993 to July, 1996.
  • Stanford is the university behind Folding@home, one of the most widely disseminated distributed computing projects in the life sciences field, allowing hobbyists and enthusiasts to participate in scientific research by donating unused computer processor cycles. It studies protein folding, misfolding, aggregation, and related diseases.
  • Professors Ward Hanson and Greg Rosston asked some of their students to edit a Wikipedia page for an economics course about the Internet.

Further reading

  • Stuart W. Leslie, The Cold War and American Science: The Military-Industrial-Academic Complex at MIT and Stanford, Columbia University Press 1994
  • Rebecca S. Lowen, R. S. Lowen, Creating the Cold War University: The Transformation of Stanford, University of California Press 1997

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Vintage Stanford University postcard

External links

Pacific Ten Conference
Arizona | Arizona State | Cal
   Oregon | Oregon State | Stanford | UCLA   
USC | Washington | Washington State
Pacific Ten Conference
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