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Stanford University

Stanford University, Stanford is a place of discovery, creativity and innovation located in the San Francisco Bay Area on the ancestral land of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe.

A History of Stanford :

Stanford University was founded in 1885 by California senator Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane, “to promote the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization.”

Stanford Family:

When railroad magnate and former California Gov. Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane Lathrop Stanford, lost their only child, Leland, Jr., to typhoid in 1884, they decided to build a university as the most fitting memorial, and deeded to it a large fortune that included the 8,180-acre Palo Alto stock farm that became the campus. The campus is located within the traditional territory of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. The Stanfords made their plans just as the modern research university was taking form.

How Stanford University was formed:

Leland Stanford Junior University – still its legal name – opened Oct. 1, 1891.

The Stanfords and founding President David Starr Jordan aimed for their new university to be nonsectarian, co-educational and affordable, to produce cultured and useful graduates, and to teach both the traditional liberal arts and the technology and engineering that were already changing America.

Stanford University

Their vision took shape on the oak-dotted fields of the San Francisco Peninsula as a matrix of arcades and quadrangles designed for expansion and the dissolving of barriers between people, disciplines and ideas.

From the start, stewardship of the founders’ extraordinary land gift has helped support university endeavors, and has made room for a multiplicity of institutes, schools and laboratories that cross-fertilize each other with innovations that have changed the world. Computer time-sharing, the first isolation of highly purified stem cells and the first synthesis of biologically active DNA, among many other breakthroughs, all originated at Stanford.

Jane Stanford:

The early years were difficult, however, as even the Stanfords’ wealth proved inadequate to their vision. After her husband’s death, Jane Stanford kept the fledgling university open through her leadership. The 1906 earthquake dealt a further blow, killing two people and destroying several campus buildings, some so new they had never been occupied.

University benefactor and trustee Herbert Hoover, future U.S. president and member of Stanford’s Pioneer Class of 1895, professionalized university operations in the 1920s and helped to put Stanford on a sound financial footing. He founded an institute to collect global political material – today’s Hoover Institution Library and Archives – and led the creation of the Graduate School of Business, both now world leaders in their respective fields.

Engineering Professor Frederick Terman :

Engineering Professor Frederick Terman, dubbed the “Father of Silicon Valley,” left his stamp by encouraging Stanford students not only to develop but also to commercialize their ideas. In 1937, physicists Russell Varian, Sigurd Varian and William Hansen developed the klystron ultra-high-frequency vacuum tube, paving the way for commercial air navigation, satellite communication and high-energy particle accelerators.

In 1939, graduate students William Hewlett and David Packard developed the precision audio oscillator, first low-cost method of measuring audio frequencies, and spun it into the company now known as HP. In 1951, the university developed its Stanford Research Park to house firms led by such innovators. Varian Associates became the first tenants.

The first website in North America went online :

The post-World War II era saw many research advances. In 1959, Stanford Medical School moved from San Francisco to the main Palo Alto campus. The 1950s also saw planning of today’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, managed under license from the U.S. Department of Energy and opened in 1962.

The first website in North America went online at SLAC 29 years later. Advances in particle physics developed at SLAC led to the Linac Coherent Light Source, whose ability to capture ultra-fast images of chemical changes at atomic scale has made it a global destination for pharmaceutical research.

The Cold War also gave rise to “the Dish,” the radio telescope that is a familiar landmark in the foothills behind campus. The hill housing the Dish is a conservation area open to the public, and more than 2,000 people run or hike “Dish Hill” each day.

The world’s first office desktop computer:

Deep in the foothills beyond the Dish, a much smaller structure yielded epochal discoveries when it became home to the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL), founded by John McCarthy and Les Earnest in 1965. SAIL researchers devised the first interactive system for computer design, as well as pioneering work on computer vision, robotics, laser printing and automated assembly. The world’s first office desktop computer displays appeared at SAIL in 1971.

Stanford sought new ways to transform society and preserve the environment :

In the 1970s, Stanford sought new ways to transform society and preserve the environment. It severed its links to classified defense research and forged new paths for service and stewardship. Stanford reduced its dependence on the automobile by adding campus housing and the free Marguerite shuttle, named after a 19th-century horse that pulled a jitney between campus and Palo Alto. The Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve was designated in 1973 to help preserve the green “lungs” of the Peninsula and access to the biological data compiled there that helped establish the field of population genetics.

Stanford Humanities Center :

The multidisciplinary Stanford Humanities Center, first of its kind in the nation and still the largest, opened in 1980 to advance research into the historical, philosophical, literary, artistic and cultural dimensions of the human experience. At this and 30 other humanities-related centers on campus, scholars ranging from distinguished undergraduates to mid-career fellows create new understandings of the world and humanity’s place in it.

From the start, Stanford has valued experiential education. Generous funding helps its undergraduates of diverse economic backgrounds to enjoy parity of experience and opportunity. In 2015, 85 percent of students received some form of financial assistance and 78 percent of Stanford undergraduates graduated debt-free.

More than 1,000 undergraduates conduct faculty-directed research and honors projects each year, while 1,000 take part in public-service projects and 1,000 study overseas, all without regard for ability to pay. Since 1992, all undergraduates are guaranteed four years of on-campus housing, in keeping with Stanford’s emphasis on residential education and the experience of a small liberal arts college within the matrix of a large research university.

Green Library :

A significant physical transformation followed the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which again challenged the university’s resilience and vision. Stanford’s main Green Library renovated its heavily damaged west wing as the Bing Wing, while the similarly damaged Stanford Art Museum reopened in 1999 as the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts.

In 1985, the B. Gerald Cantor Rodin Sculpture Garden opened as the largest collection of Rodin bronzes outside Paris. It became the nexus for a world-class collection of 20th- and 21st-century sculpture, nearly all of it freely accessible to the public. Today, the museum and sculpture garden are part of a Stanford arts district that includes the Bing Concert Hall, the McMurtry Building for experiential arts learning and the acclaimed Anderson Collection of 20th-century American painting.

Biomedical Engineering and Science Institute:

The James H. Clark Center for Biomedical Engineering and Sciences opened in 2003 as a geographic and intellectual nexus between the Schools of Engineering and Medicine and Bio-X, a leading interdisciplinary biosciences institute led by Professor Carla Schatz. Its collaboration-friendly architecture set the tone for future construction, furthering the interdisciplinarity that became a hallmark of university president John Hennessy’s tenure.

The environmentally sensitive construction seen at the Clark Center, Science and Engineering Quad, School of Medicine, and elsewhere complements the university’s deep commitment to sustainability in research, teaching, and institutional practice. In 2015, Stanford Energy System Innovations’ electric heat recovery system joined the university’s solar and geothermal power purchase initiative to reduce campus emissions by approximately 68 percent.

Plattner Institute of Design :

The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford opened in the School of Engineering in 2005, bringing together students and faculty from radically different backgrounds to develop innovative, human-centered solutions to real-world challenges. Using the techniques of design and engineering, the institute, popularly known as the D.School on campus, instills creative confidence and draws students beyond the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines.

Growth initiatives of unprecedented scale are furthering the Stanford family’s vision. The 2000 campaign for undergraduate education raised $1 billion, while the Stanford Challenge ended in 2012 after raising $6.2 billion, the largest fundraising campaign launched by a university to finance bold new initiatives. was to do. Meanwhile, the $1 billion Campaign for Stanford Medicine is rebuilding two of Stanford’s hospitals for adults and children to advance the mission of precision health.

Center for Science Teaching and Learning :

During 2016, Stanford celebrated its 125th year of transformational impact. A revamped Roble Gym opened with a dedicated “arts gym” to help make art an integral part of the student experience. “Old Chem,” one of Stanford’s first buildings, received new life as the Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning.

The School of Humanities and Sciences launched the Humanities Core, a new certificate and minor program providing undergraduates a structured pathway to explore fundamental questions of human existence. That year, Stanford also expanded its Bing Overseas Studies Program, enhanced undergraduate research opportunities and played a pioneering role in exploring how best to use online technologies to expand access to high-quality education.

What’s on at Stanford University today :

Stanford University today comprises seven schools and 18 interdisciplinary institutes with more than 16,000 students, 2,100 faculty and 1,800 postdoctoral scholars. Stanford is an international institution, enrolling students from all 50 U.S. states and 91 other countries. It is also an athletics powerhouse, with 900 current student-athletes and a history of 128 national titles and 22 consecutive Learfield Sports Directors’ Cups, awarded to the top intercollegiate athletics program in the nation.

At the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, hosted by Stanford, President Barack Obama praised the university as “a place that celebrates our ability as human beings to discover and learn and to build, to question, to reimagine, to create new ways to connect and work with each other.”

Stanford Facts :

Learn more about Stanford University, a place of learning, discovery, and innovation. Founded in 1885, Stanford’s areas of excellence span seven schools along with research institutes, the arts and athletics.

Student Life :

Housing :

As of autumn quarter 2022, 7,246 students live in university-provided undergraduate housing, and 6,769 students live in university-provided graduate housing. Housing is guaranteed for entering undergraduate first-year students for four years. About 98 percent of all eligible undergraduates live in campus housing.

The undergraduate housing system includes 80 diverse facilities. The university offers on-campus houses for Greek-letter organizations. About 70 percent of graduate students eligible for housing live in university-provided housing designed for single students, couples and families with children. New graduate students are guaranteed housing their first year at Stanford when they apply by the spring deadline.

Dining :

R&DE Stanford Dining, a division of Residential & Dining Enterprises, is a best-in-class dining program serving 18,000 meals a day in 12 dining halls, 41 Row houses, Athletic Dining and Schwab Executive Dining. Stanford Dining also oversees the campus BeWell community gardens and the Stanford Food Pantry. R&DE Stanford Dining has been recognized for its culinary excellence by awards such as the prestigious industry Ivy Award by Restaurants and Institutions for its leadership role.

R&DE Stanford Dining prides itself on providing nutritious, sustainable and delicious food choices to meet the wide variety of dietary needs within our diverse Stanford community. The Eat Well @ Stanford program provides support to students dining with food allergies, religious requirements, medical needs, vegan/vegetarian diets and other nutritional needs.

R&DE Stanford Dining has a long history of award-winning sustainability leadership. Articles on eating well, sustainability, health and safety protocols and meal plan FAQs can be found on the R&DE Stanford Dining website.

Student Organizations :

The Office of Student Engagement oversees more than 600 official student organizations at Stanford. On average, over 1,500 events a year are planned by student organizations. There are about 30 recognized religious organizations, and more than 100 committed to the arts.

Other types of organizations include ethnic/cultural, community service, social awareness, social, athletic and recreational, and pre-professional/academic. Approximately 20 percent of undergraduate students will be involved in one of our 20 fraternities and sororities recognized on campus. The main student newspaper is the Stanford Daily.

The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) is the representative government for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Haas Center for Public Service :

The Haas Center for Public Service educates students to be ethical and engaged global citizens through service, scholarship and community partnerships. The center is a home for service on campus and the hub of Cardinal Service, a university-wide effort to make service an essential feature of a Stanford education.

Cardinal Service supports students to enroll in more than 180 community-engaged learning Cardinal Courses; pursue more than 400 full-time Cardinal Quarter service fellowships and internships offered locally, nationally and globally with Stanford support; build leadership skills through a sustained Cardinal Commitment; and explore public service careers and ways to integrate service into any career.

Traditions :

Big Game sometimes referred to as the Battle of the Bay, is the annual football game against the University of California-Berkeley Golden Bears.
Fountain hopping involves touring Stanford’s campus fountains and hanging out in them.
The Wacky Walk occurs during the first part of Commencement, when undergraduates forgo a more traditional entrance and instead stride, often in costume, into Stanford Stadium.

At Stanford 2022: The year in review :

A look back on a year that included the opening of the first new school in 75 years, continued efforts to promote diversity, equity, access and inclusion, a Nobel win and Rhodes scholarship, and much more.

2022 was a lively year at Stanford as efforts to advance and execute priorities on the school’s Long-Range Vision ramped up. The university’s first new school in 75 years, the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, launched this fall and is dedicated to tackling sustainability challenges facing people and ecosystems across the world.

Stanford also unveiled new programming for undergraduate residential neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the IDEAL initiative also continued to grow with the launch of a learning journey for staff and the second cohort of new IDEAL Provostial Fellows joined campus this year, bringing the total number of fellows to 10.

The year also saw Stanford researchers make continued advancements in science and technology, and scholars from the social sciences, arts, and humanities offered new ways to understand problems facing society and the world at large.

Stanford also celebrated some notable recognitions among its faculty and students, including a Nobel Prize in chemistry and a Rhodes Scholarship, to name just two. Stanford’s student-athletes continued to impress, with national championship wins in women’s water polo, women’s golf, and men’s gymnastics.

FAQs :

Establishment of Stanford University

Stanford University was founded in 1885

Stanford University was open

Stanford University 1891

Student Enrollment

7,645 undergraduate, 9,292 graduate


president Marc Tessier-Lavigne
Provost Persis Drell


2,288 faculty members
20 Nobel laureates are currently members of the Stanford community
5:1 student to faculty ratio

Seven Schools

Business, Sustainability, Education, Engineering, Humanities and Sciences, Law, Medicine


8,180 contiguous acres, Nearly 700 major buildings


7,900+ externally sponsored projects, $1.69 billion total budget


$37.8 billion (as of August 31, 2021)

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