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Coordinates: 37°26′N 122°10′W / 37.43°N 122.17°W / 37.43; -122.17

Stanford University
Leland Stanford Junior University

Seal of Stanford University
Motto Die Luft der Freiheit weht
Motto in English The wind of freedom blows[1]
Established 1891[2]
Type Private
Endowment $12.6 billion[3]
President John L. Hennessy
Provost John Etchemendy
Faculty 1,878[4]
Students 14,945
Undergraduates 6,812[5]
Postgraduates 8,328[5]
Location Stanford, CA, U.S.
Campus Suburban, 8,180 acres (33.1 km2)[6]
Athletic nickname Cardinal
Colors Cardinal red and white         
Mascot Cardinal red
Stanford Tree (unofficial)
Athletics NCAA Division I (FBS) Pac-10
Stanford logo.png

The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university located in Stanford, California, United States, in Silicon Valley. The university was founded in 1891 by Leland Stanford. Its alumni have founded the companies Hewlett-Packard, Electronic Arts, Sun Microsystems, Nvidia, Yahoo!, Cisco Systems, Silicon Graphics, and Google.

Stanford enrolls approximately 6,800 undergraduate and 8,300 graduate students from the United States and around the world. The university is divided into a number of schools, including the Stanford Business School, Stanford Law School, Stanford School of Medicine, and Stanford School of Engineering.

Stanford is ranked second among world universities by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, and its undergraduate program is currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

The university's assets include a US$12.6 billion endowment, the third largest of any academic institution.

Stanford's athletic program has won the NACDA Directors' Cup each of the past fifteen years. One of two private universities to compete in the Pacific-10 Conference, Stanford maintains its main athletic rivalry with Cal.




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 Palo Alto. 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.[7][8] 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.[9]

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.[10]

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 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[11]. When the school opened, students were not charged for tuition, a program which lasted into the 1930s [12]. 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.[13]

The original 'inner quad' buildings (1887–91) were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Francis A. Walker, Charles Allerton Coolidge, and Leland Stanford himself.


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.[14] 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.[15][16]

Early finances

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.[17][18]

Edward Alsworth Ross gained fame as a founding father of American sociology; in 1900 Jane Stanford fired him for radicalism and racism, unleashing a major academic freedom case.[19]

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".[20] 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.[20]

20th century

The ruins of Stanford Library after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed parts of the Main Quad (including the original iteration of Memorial Church) as well as the gate that first marked the entrance of the school; rebuilding on a somewhat less grandiose scale began immediately.


From 1906 to 1919, in response to the crisis caused by numerous injuries, intercollegiate football was in jeopardy. While some colleges dropped football entirely, a few, such as the University of California and Stanford University, replaced it with English rugby. From 1906 to 1914, the two schools played rugby as their major sport, but they soon found that the objectionable practices they saw in football were introduced into rugby. Finally, when the football rules were changed, a move developed to return to football, reviving intercollegiate sports and enabling students and alumni to identify with football, an American sport.[21]

Hoover Institution

The Hoover Institution (full name: the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace) at Stanford was set up by Herbert C. Hoover, one of Stanford's first graduates. He had been in charge of American relief efforts in Europe after World War I before his election as president of the United States in 1928. Hoover's express purpose was to collect the records of contemporary history as it was happening. Hoover's helpers frequently risked their lives to rescue documentary and rare printed material, especially from countries under Nazi or Communist rule. Their many successes included the papers of Rosa Luxembourg, the Goebbels diaries, and the records of the Russian secret police in Paris. Research institutes were also set up under Hoover's influence, though inevitably there were to be clashes between the moving force, Hoover, and the host university. In 1960, W. Glenn Campbell was appointed director and substantial budget increases soon led to corresponding increases in acquisitions and related research projects. Despite student unrest in the 1960s, the institution continued to thrive and develop closer relations with Stanford. In particular, the Chinese and Russian collections grew considerably. The Institute increasingly became a conservative think tank, with ties to Washington, especially since 1980. It continues as an integral component of the University.[22]

Post 1945


The biological sciences department evolved rapidly from 1946 to 1972 as its research focus changed, due to the Cold War and other historically significant conditions external to academia. Stanford science went through three phases of experimental direction during that time. In the early 1950s the department remained fixed in the classical independent and self-directed research mode, shunning interdisciplinary collaboration and excessive government funding. Between the 1950s and mid-1960s biological research shifted focus to the molecular level. Then, from the late 1960s onward, Stanford's goal became applying research and findings toward humanistic ends. Each phase was preempted by larger social issues, such as the escalation of the Cold War, the launch of Sputnik, and public concern over medical abuses.[23]

High tech

A powerful sense of regional solidarity accompanied the rise of Silicon Valley. From the 1890s, the university's leaders saw its mission as service to the West and shaped the school accordingly. At the same time, the perceived exploitation of the West at the hands of eastern interests fueled booster-like attempts to build self-sufficient indigenous local industry. Thus, regionalism helped align Stanford's interests with those of the area's high-tech firms for the first fifty years of Silicon Valley's development. The distinctive regional ethos of the West during the first half of the 20th century is an ingredient of Silicon Valley's already prepared environment, an ingredient that would-be replicators ignore at their peril.[24]

During the 1940s and 1950s, Frederick Terman, as dean of engineering and provost, encouraged faculty and graduates to start their own companies. He is credited with nurturing Hewlett-Packard, Varian Associates, and other high-tech firms, until what would become Silicon Valley grew up around the Stanford campus. Terman is often called "the father of Silicon Valley."[25]


In 1962-70 negotiations took place between the Cambridge Electron Accelerator Laboratory (shared by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, and the US Atomic Energy Commission over the proposed 1970 construction of the Stanford Positron Electron Asymmetric Ring (SPEAR). It would be the first US electron-positron colliding beam storage ring. Paris (2001) explores the competition and cooperation between the two university laboratories and presents diagrams of the proposed facilities, charts detailing location factors, and the parameters of different project proposals between 1967 and 1970. Several rings were built in Europe during the five years that it took to obtain funding for the project, but the extensive project revisions resulted in a superior design that was quickly constructed and paved the way for Nobel Prizes in 1976 for Burton Richter and in 1995 for Martin Perl.[26] During 1955-85, solid state technology research and development at Stanford University followed three waves of industrial innovation made possible by support from private corporations, mainly Bell Telephone Laboratories, Shockley Semiconductor, Fairfield Semiconductor, and Xerox PARC. In 1969 the Stanford Research Institute operated one of the four original nodes that comprised ARPANET, predecessor to the Internet.[27]


An aerial photograph of the Stanford University campus

Stanford University is located on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha)[6] campus on the San Francisco Peninsula, in the northwest part of the Santa Clara Valley (Silicon Valley) approximately 37 miles (60 km) southeast of San Francisco and approximately 20 miles (32 km) northwest of San Jose. The main campus is adjacent to the city of Palo Alto, bounded by El Camino Real, Stanford Avenue, Junipero Serra Boulevard, and Sand Hill Road. The university also operates the Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, California, in Monterey Bay.

Stanford University owns 8,183 acres (3,312 ha), which makes it the second largest university in the world in terms of contiguous area.[28] Moscow State University is built vertically and has a larger total floor area but occupies a smaller piece of land. Berry College, near Rome, Georgia occupies 28,000 acres (11,000 ha) of contiguous land, and Paul Smith's College occupies 14,200 acres (5,700 ha) of land in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, but neither is a university. Duke University occupies 8,709 acres (3,524 ha), but they are not contiguous.[29] The United States Air Force Academy has a contiguous 18,000 acres (7,300 ha) at its disposal, but it is not a university. Dartmouth College, with a large land grant,[30] owns more than 50,000 acres (20,000 ha), but only 269 acres (109 ha) of those are part of the campus.[31][32] Sewanee: The University of the South occupies 13,000 acres in its "Domain"; however, most of this is unused forest.

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. The original campus was also designed in the Spanish-colonial style common to California known as Mission Revival. The red tile roofs and solid sandstone masonry are distinctly Californian in appearance and famously complementary to the bright blue skies common to the region, and most of the subsequently erected buildings have maintained consistent exteriors.

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 not in use and has been boarded up since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake),[33] and Encina Hall (the residence of Herbert Hoover, John Steinbeck, and Anthony Kennedy during their times at Stanford). After the 1989 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.

Stanford University is actually its own census-designated place within unincorporated Santa Clara County, although some of the university land is within the city limits of Palo Alto. For many purposes it can be considered a part of the city of Palo Alto; they share the same school district and fire department, although the police forces are separate. The United States Postal Service has assigned Stanford two ZIP codes: 94305 for campus mail and 94309 for P.O. box mail. It lies within area code 650 and campus phone numbers start with 721, 723, 724, 725, 736, 497, or 498.

The physicist Werner Heisenberg was once asked if he knew where Stanford University was located. "I believe it is on the west coast of the United States, not far from San Francisco. There is also another school nearby, and they steal each other's axes," he replied, referring to Stanford's rivalry with the University of California, Berkeley.[34] [35]


Orthographic panorama of the Main Quad, located in the heart of the Stanford University campus.

Contemporary campus landmarks include the Main Quad and Memorial Church, the Cantor Center for Visual Arts 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, the Stanford University Arboretum, Green Library and the Dish. Frank Lloyd Wright's 1937 Hanna-Honeycomb House and the 1919 Lou Henry and Herbert Hoover House are both listed on the National Historic Register.

Faculty residences

One of the benefits of being a Stanford faculty member is the "Faculty Ghetto," where faculty members can live within walking or biking distance of campus. The Faculty Ghetto is composed of land owned entirely by Stanford. Similar to a condominium, the houses can be bought and sold but the land under the houses is rented on a 99-year lease. Houses in the "Ghetto" appreciate and depreciate, but not as rapidly as overall Silicon Valley values. However, it remains an expensive area in which to own property, and the average price of single-family homes on campus is actually higher than in Palo Alto. Stanford itself enjoys the rapid capital gains of Silicon Valley landowners, although by the terms of its founding the university cannot sell the land.

Non-main campus

On the founding grant but away from the main 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. The university also has its own golf course and a seasonal lake (Lake Lagunita, actually an irrigation reservoir), both home to the endangered California Tiger Salamander. Lake Lagunita is often dry now, but the university has no plans to artificially fill it.[36]

Lake Lagunita in early spring; the Dish is visible in the foothills behind the lake.

Sustainability at Stanford

Stanford offers a free shuttle bus service named Marguerite and offers monetary incentives to its employees for carpooling. The university also has several sustainability initiatives underway. The 21,000 square feet (2,000 m2) Green Dorm currently under construction under the supervision of Professor Gil Masters will house between forty and fifty students, have a net carbon emission of zero, and produce more electricity than the building itself uses.[37] A new environmentally friendly Environment and Energy building is also planned. The Woods Institute also serves to undergird the university’s environmental movement, as a “hub for multidisciplinary environmental research, teaching, and outreach.”[38] Stanford is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.[39] The Aspen Institute has ranked the Stanford Graduate School of Business as the number one MBA program for incorporating social and environmental issues into the training of future business leaders, out of 590 schools worldwide.[40] And in 2009, the Sustainable Endowments Institute awarded Stanford University a grade of A- in its annual College Sustainability Report Card, making it one of the top fifteen of the 300 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada reviewed. (Climate, energy, and transportation were weak points.)[41][42]

Administration and organization

Stanford University is a tax-exempt corporate trust owned and governed by a privately appointed 35-member Board of Trustees.[43] Trustees serve five-year terms (not more than two consecutive terms) and meet five times annually.[44] The Stanford trustees also oversee the Stanford Research Park, the Stanford Shopping Center, the Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University Medical Center, and many associated medical facilities (including the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital).[43]

The Board appoints a President to serve as the chief executive officer of the university and prescribe the duties of professors and course of study, manage financial and business affairs, and appoint nine vice presidents.[45] John L. Hennessy was appointed the 10th President of the University in October 2000.[46] The Provost is the chief academic and budget officer, to whom the deans of each of the seven schools report.[47] John Etchemendy was named the 12th Provost in September 2000.[48]

The university is organized into seven schools: 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.[47] The powers and authority of the faculty are vested in the Academic Council, which is made up of tenure and non-tenure line faculty, research faculty, senior fellows in some policy centers and institutes, the president of the university, and some other academic administrators, but most matters are handled by the Faculty Senate, made up of 55 elected representatives of the faculty.[49]

In 2006, President Hennessy launched the Stanford Challenge, a $4.3 billion fund-raising campaign focusing on three components: multidisciplinary research initiatives, initiatives to improve education, and core support.[50] Stanford raised $832.2 million in private donations from 69,350 donors in 2006–2007, the most of all U.S. universities.[43]

The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) is the student government for Stanford University and all registered students are members.[51] Its elected leadership consists of the Undergraduate Senate elected by the undergraduate students, the Graduate Student Council elected by the graduate students, and the President and Vice President elected as a ticket by the entire student body.[51]


Walkway near the Quad

Stanford University is a large, highly residential research university with a majority of enrollments coming from graduate and professional students.[52] The full-time, four-year undergraduate program is classified as "more selective" and has an arts and sciences focus with high graduate student coexistence.[52] Stanford University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.[53] Full-time undergraduate tuition was $36,030 for 2008–2009.[54][55]

Research centers and institutes

View of Hoover Tower from Main Quad.

Other Stanford-affiliated institutions include the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (originally the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) and the Stanford Research Institute, a now independent institution which originated at the university, in addition to the Stanford Humanities Center.

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 Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, which is dedicated to the more specific study of international relations. Unable to locate a copy in any of its libraries, the Soviet Union was obliged to ask the Hoover Institution for a microfilm copy of its original edition of the first issue of Pravda (dated March 5, 1917).[56]

The Stanford Center, an intensive language training institute, was originally established at National Taiwan University (NTU) to fulfill Stanford's needs in training graduate students in Mandarin Chinese. Later, other prestigious universities joined the board and the institute changed its name to the Inter-University Program (IUP). Today, the IUP has relocated to Beijing, while the original program in Taipei exists as an institute of NTU and is now known as the International Chinese Language Program (ICLP).

Libraries and digital resources

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 vast East Asia collection and the student-accessible media resources. Other significant collections include the Lane Medical Library, Terman Engineering Library, Jackson Business Library, Falconer Biology Library, Cubberley Education Library, Branner Earth Sciences Library, Swain Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Library, Jonsson Government Documents collection, Crown Law Library, Stanford Auxiliary Library (SAL), SLAC Library, Hoover library, Miller Marine Biology Library at Hopkins Marine Station, Music Library, Library for Aid with Down Syndrome (LADS), and the university's special collections. There are 20 libraries in all.

Digital libraries and text services include digital image collections, 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 is a founding and charter member of CENIC, the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California, the nonprofit organization that provides extremely high-performance Internet-based networking to California's K-20 research and education community.

Student body

Demographics of student body[54][57][58]
Undergraduate Graduate California U.S. Census
African American 10% 3% 6.2% 12.1%
Asian American 23% 13% 12.3% 4.3%
White American 38% 35% 59.8% 65.8%
Hispanic American 12% 5% 35.9% 14.5%
Native American 2.7% <1% 0.7% 0.9%
International student 7% 33% N/A N/A
View from Hoover Tower observation deck of the Quad and surrounding area, facing west

Stanford enrolled 6,532 undergraduate, 1,021 professional, and 10,280 graduate students in 2008.[54] Women comprised 48.9% of undergraduates and 37.6% of professional and graduate students.[54] The freshman retention rate for 2007 was 98.3%, the four-year graduation rate is 79.4%, and the six-year rate is 94.4%.[54] The relatively low four-year graduation rate is a function of the university's coterminal degree (or "coterm") program, which allows students to earn a Master's degree as an extension of their undergraduate program.[59]

Stanford awarded 1,646 undergraduate degrees, 1,984 Master's degrees, 673 doctoral degrees, and 271 professional degrees in 2008.[54] The most popular Bachelor's degrees were in the social sciences, interdisciplinary studies, and engineering.

Stanford received 25,299 applications for admissions to the undergraduate program in 2007–2008, admitting 2,400 (9.8%), and enrolling 1,703 (71%), the lowest percentage in the university's 117-year history.[54][60] 92% of students graduated in the top tenth of their high-school class and the inter-quartile ranges for the SAT were 680–780 for math, 670–760 for writing, and 650–760 for reading.[54]

For the class of 2013, Stanford received 5300 single-choice early action applications and accepted 689 of them, for an early admission rate of approximately 13%. This application season Stanford received more than 30,000 total applications from both the regular and early rounds and expects an overall admission rate of about 7.2%, the lowest rate yet in the university's history and more than 2% lower than for the class of 2012.

Stanford's admission process is need-blind for US citizens. The university awarded $75.6 million in financial aid to 2,960 students, an average package of $33,108.[54] Stanford does not require a parental contribution for families with income below $60,000, and families with income below $100,000 currently have tuition charges covered.[54][61]


University rankings (overall)

ARWU World[62] 2nd
ARWU North & Latin America[63] 2nd
Times Higher Education[64] 16th
USNWR National University[65] 4th
WM National University[66] 4th

Stanford University's undergraduate program is ranked fourth among national universities by U.S. News and World Report (USNWR).[67] Stanford is ranked second among world universities and second among universities in the Americas by Academic Ranking of World Universities, Shanghai Jiao Tong University,[68] seventeenth among world universities in the THES - QS World University Rankings (subject rankings: social sciences, technology: 3rd, life sciences & biomedicine: 6th, arts & humanities, natural sciences: 8th),[69][70] fourth among national universities by The Washington Monthly,[71] second among "global universities" by Newsweek,[72] and in the first tier among national universities by the Center for Measuring University Performance.[73] The Stanford Law School is ranked third in the nation while its Education School and Business School are both ranked second. Forbes ranked the Stanford Graduate School of Business at the top in its 2009 "Best Business Schools" list.[74] Stanford School of Medicine is currently ranked sixth in research according to U.S. News and World Report. The admission rates for all Stanford schools (undergraduate, graduate, and professional) are amongst the lowest (if not the lowest) in the United States.


Bronze statues by Auguste Rodin are scattered through the campus, including these Burghers of Calais.

Stanford University is home to the Cantor Center for Visual Arts museum with 24 galleries, sculpture gardens, terraces, and a courtyard first established in 1891 by Jane and Leland Stanford as a memorial to their only child. Notably, the Center possesses the largest collection of Rodin works outside of Paris, France. There are also a large number of outdoor art installations throughout the campus, primarily sculptures, but some murals as well. The Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden near Roble Hall features handmade wood carvings and "totem poles."

Stanford has a thriving artistic and musical community. Extracurricular activities include theater groups such as Ram's Head Theatrical Society and the Stanford Shakespeare Society, award-winning a cappella music groups such as the Mendicants, Counterpoint, the Stanford Fleet Street Singers, Harmonics, Mixed Company, Testimony, Talisman, Everyday People, Raagapella, and a group dedicated to performing the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, the Stanford Savoyards. Beyond these, the music department sponsors many ensembles including five choirs, the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, Stanford Taiko, and the Stanford Wind Ensemble.

Stanford's dance community is one of the most vibrant in the country, with an active dance division in the Drama Department and over 30 different dance-related student groups, including the Stanford Band's Dollie dance troupe.

Perhaps most distinctive of all is its social and vintage dance community, cultivated by dance historian Richard Powers and enjoyed by hundreds of students and thousands of alumni. Stanford hosts monthly informal dances (called Jammix) and large quarterly dance events, including Ragtime Ball (fall), the Stanford Viennese Ball (winter), and Big Dance (spring). Stanford also boasts a student-run swing performance troupe called Swingtime and several alumni performance groups, including Decadance and the Academy of Danse Libre.

The creative writing program brings 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. Knight Journalism Fellows are invited to spend a year at the campus taking seminars and courses of their choice. There is also an extracurricular writing and performance group called the Stanford Spoken Word Collective, which also serves as the school's poetry slam team.

Stanford also hosts various publishing courses for professionals. Stanford Professional Publishing Course, which has been offered on campus since the late 1970s, brings together international publishing professionals to discuss changing business models in magazine and book publishing.

Endowment and fundraising

Stanford was the top fund-raising university in the United States for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008 with $785 million.[75]

The university's endowment, managed by the Stanford Management Company, was valued at $17.2 billion in 2008 and had achieved an annualized rate of return of 15.1% since 1998.[43][76] In the economic downturn of January 2009, however, the endowment has dropped 20 to 30 percent.[77] According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "Stanford's endowment has lost approximately $4 billion to $5 billion, or 20 to 30 percent of its value" since 2008. As a result, all campus units are cutting their budgets by 15 percent in 2009.[78]

Student life

Many students use bicycles to get around the large campus.

Dormitories and student housing

89% of undergraduate students live in on-campus university housing, partially because first-year students are required to live on campus, and because students are guaranteed housing for all four years of their undergraduate careers.[54][79] According to the Stanford Housing Assignments Office, undergraduates live in 80 different houses, including dormitories, co-ops, row houses, fraternities and sororities.[80] At Manzanita Park, 118 mobile homes were installed as "temporary" housing from the late 1960s to 1991, but it is now the site of modern dorms Castano, Kimball, and Lantana.[81] Most student residences are located just outside the campus core, within ten minutes (on foot or bike) of most classrooms and libraries. Some are for freshmen only; others give priority to sophomores, others to both freshmen and sophomores; some are for upperclass students only, and some are open to all four classes. Most residences are co-ed; seven are all-male fraternities, three are all-female sororities, and there is also one all-female non-sorority house, Roth House. In most residences, men and women live on the same floor, but a few dorms are configured for men and women to live on separate floors (single-gender floors), including all Wilbur dorms except for Arroyo and Okada.[82] Beginning in 2009-10, the University's housing plan anticipates that all freshmen desiring to live in all-freshman dorms will be accommodated. In the 2009-10 year, almost two-thirds of freshmen will be housed in Stern and Wilbur Halls. The one-third who requested four-class housing will be located in other dormitories throughout campus, including Florence Moore (FloMo).[83] In April 2008, Stanford unveiled a new pilot plan to test out gender-neutral housing in five campus residences, allowing males and females to live in the same room. This was after concerted student pressure, as well as the institution of similar policies at peer institutions such as Wesleyan, Oberlin, Clark, Dartmouth, Brown, and UPenn.[84]

Several residences are considered theme houses. The Academic, Language and Culture Houses include EAST (East Asian Studies Theme), Hammarskjöld (International Theme), Haus Mitteleuropa (Central European Theme), La Casa Italiana (Italian Language and Culture), La Maison Francaise (French Language and Culture House), Slavianskii Dom (Slavic/East European Theme House), Storey (Human Biology Theme House), and Yost (Spanish Language and Culture).Cross-Cultural Theme Houses include Casa Zapata (Chicano/Latino Theme in Stern Hall), Muwekma-tah-ruk (American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Theme), Okada (Asian-American Theme in Wilbur Hall), and Ujamaa (Black/African-American Theme in Lagunita Court). Focus Houses include Freshman-Sophomore College (Freshman Focus), Branner Hall (Community Service), Kimball (Arts & Performing Arts), and Toyon (Sophomore Priority).[85]

Another famous style of housing at Stanford is the co-ops. These houses feature cooperative living, where residents and eating associates each contribute work to keep the house running, such as cooking meals or cleaning shared spaces. The co-ops on campus are Chi Theta Chi, Columbae, Enchanted Broccoli Forest (EBF), Hammarskjöld (which is also the International Theme House), Kairos, Terra, and Synergy.[86]

At any time, around 50 percent of the graduate population lives on campus. Now that construction has concluded on the new Munger graduate residence, this percentage has probably increased. First-year graduate students are guaranteed housing.


Vintage Stanford University postcard
  • Full Moon on the Quad: A student gathering in the Main Quad of the university. Traditionally, seniors exchange kisses with freshmen, although students of all four classes (as well as the occasional graduate student or stranger) have been known to participate. In September 2009 the administration announced that it was canceling that year's Full Moon festivities out of concern for students' health and the threat of swine flu.[87]
  • Sunday Flicks: A weekly Sunday night film screening in Memorial Auditorium. Usually, students are very loud and crazy during the screenings, and can be seen flying paper airplanes or simply throwing wads of newspaper at each other. Flicks ran into significant financial trouble in 2006 and after an ASSU bail-out became free for all students.
  • Steam-tunnelling: The act of exploring the steam tunnels under the Stanford campus.
  • Fountain-hopping: The act of running from one fountain on campus to another, or simply leaping/swimming around in any of Stanford's many fountains (such as the Stanford Claw fountain in White Plaza).
  • Big Game events: The events in the week leading up to the Big Game vs. UC Berkeley, including Gaieties (a musical written, composed, produced, and performed by students), The Bearial (in which the Stanford Band performs a funeral-like procession and pierces a stuffed-animal bear on the tip of the Stanford Claw fountain), and an hourly train whistle that counts down the hours until Big Game, orchestrated by the Stanford Axe Committee.
  • Primal scream: Performed by stressed students at midnight during Dead Week (the week prior to finals).
  • Midnight Breakfast: During Winter quarter dead week, Stanford faculty serves breakfast to students in several locations on campus (you might see a vice-provost refilling orange juice, etc.)
  • Viennese Ball: a formal ball with waltzes that was started in the 1970s by students returning from the now-closed Stanford in Vienna overseas program.[88]
  • The Stanford Powwow: Organized by the Stanford American Indian Organization and held every Mother's Day weekend.[89]
  • Mausoleum Party: An annual Halloween Party at the Stanford Mausoleum, which contains the corpses of Leland Stanford, Jr. and his parents. A 20-year tradition, the Mausoleum party was on hiatus from 2002 to 2005[90] due to a lack of funding from the alumni,[91] but was revived in 2006. In 2008, it was hosted in Old Union rather than at the actual Mausoleum, because rain prohibited generators from being rented.[92]
  • Stanford Charity Fashion Show: A large student-run diversity fashion show showcasing student, local, and international designers that was started in 1991.[93]
  • Senior Pub Night: On most Thursdays during the school year, seniors gather at a bar in Palo Alto or San Francisco. The location rotates week to week, and chartered buses are organized to take the seniors safely between the bar and campus.
  • Uncommon Man/Uncommon Woman: Stanford does not award honorary degrees[94][95], but in 1953 the University created the degree of Uncommon Man/Uncommon Woman for individuals who give rare and extraordinary service to the University. The University's highest honor, the degree is not given at prescribed intervals, but only when appropriate to recognize extraordinary service. Recipients include Herbert Hoover, Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard, Lucile Packard, and John Gardner.[96]
  • Birthday Showers: Students get thrown in the shower by their friends at midnight on their birthdays.
  • A Capella groups perform in student residences during New Student Orientation and throughout the year. Some of the most notable original songs include those by humor-focused Fleet Street, such as "Everyone Pees in the Shower" and "Pray to the God of Partial Credit."
  • The Game: Is a scavenger hunt put on by dorm staff usually in the spring and summer quarters.

Former campus traditions include the Big Game bonfire on Lake Lagunita (a seasonal lake usually dry in the fall), which is now inactive because of the presence of endangered salamanders in the lake bed.

Greek life

Fraternities and sororities have been active on the Stanford campus since 1891, when the University first opened. In 1944, University President Donald Tresidder banned all Stanford sororities due to extreme competition.[97] However, following Title IX, the Board of Trustees lifted the 33-year ban on sororities in 1977.[98] Stanford is now home to 28 Greek organizations, including 12 sororities and 16 fraternities, representing 13% of undergraduates. In contrast to many universities, nine of the ten housed Greek organizations have houses on University-owned land, the exception being Sigma Chi, which owns its own house on The Row. 5 chapters are members of the African American Fraternal and Sororal Association, 11 chapters are members of the Interfraternity Council, 6 chapters belong to the Intersorority Council, and 6 chapters belong to the Multicultural Greek Council.[99]

Student groups

Stanford offers its students the opportunity to engage in over 650 groups.[100] Groups are often, though not always, partially funded by the University via allocations directed by the student government organization, the ASSU. These funds include "special fees," which are decided by a Spring Quarter vote by the student body. Groups span from Athletic/Recreational, Careers/Pre-professional, Community Service, Ethnic/Cultural, Fraternities/Sororities, Health/Counseling, Media/Publications, Music/Dance/Creative Arts, Political/Social Awareness to Religious/Philosophical.

Groups include:

  • The Stanford Daily is actually an independent organization, but it is the daily newspaper serving Stanford University, and it has published since the University was founded in 1892.
  • The Stanford Axe Committee is the official guardian of the Stanford Axe as well as keepers of all Stanford Tradition and Lore. They are seen on the field at all of Stanford's home football games.
  • The Stanford Pre-Business Association[101] is the largest business-focused undergraduate organization. It plays an instrumental role in establishing an active link between the industry, alumni, and student communities.
  • The Stanford solar car project, where students build a solar-powered car every 2 years and race it in either the North American Solar Challenge or the World Solar Challenge.
  • Stanford Astronomical Society organizes viewings of meteor showers, lunar eclipses, and other astronomical events.
  • The Stanford Kite Flying Society[102] (founded 2008), a group of undergraduates dedicated to flying kites. Society "meetings" are usually on Wilbur Field when it is windy out.
  • The Pilipino American Student Union (PASU), a culture-oriented community service and social activism group. Also integral to PASU is a traditional performing arts arm called Kayumanggi.
  • Stanford Finance is a pre-professional organization aimed at mentoring students who want to enter a career in finance, through mentors and internships.
  • Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students (BASES) is one of the largest professional organizations in Silicon Valley, with over 5,000 members. Its goal is to support the next generation of entrepreneurs.
  • The Stanford Fleet Street Singers is an all-male Acappella group specializing in comedic original compositions, jazz, and Stanford fight songs. Because Fleet Street maintains Stanford songs as a regular part of its performing repertoire, Stanford University used Fleet Street as ambassadors during the University's centennial celebration and commissioned an album, entitled Up Toward Mountains Higher (1999), of Stanford songs which were sent to alumni around the world.


Stanford participates in the NCAA's Division I-A and is a member of the Pacific-10 Conference. It also participates 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. The women's field hockey team is part of the NorPac Conference.[103] Stanford's traditional sports rival is the University of California, Berkeley, its neighbor to the north in the East Bay.

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 new Stanford Stadium, site of home football games.

The winner of the annual "Big Game" between the Cal and Stanford football teams gains custody of the Stanford Axe. The first "Big Game," played at Haight Street Park in San Francisco on March 19, 1892, established football on the west coast. Stanford won 14 to 10 in front of 8 thousand spectators. Stanford's football team played in the first Rose Bowl in 1902. However, the violence of the sport at the time, coupled with the post-game rioting of drunken spectators, led San Francisco to bar further "Big Games" in the city in 1905. In 1906, David Starr Jordan banned football from Stanford. The 1906–1914 "Big Game" contests featured rugby instead of football. Stanford football was resumed in 1919.[104] 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.

Club sports, while not officially a part of Stanford athletics, are numerous at Stanford. Sports include archery, badminton, cricket, cycling, equestrian, hurling, ice hockey, judo, kayaking, men's lacrosse, polo, racquetball, rugby union, squash, skiing, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon and Ultimate. The men's Ultimate team won national championships in 1984 and 2002[105], the women's Ultimate team in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007 [106], the women's rugby team in 1999, 2005, 2006 and 2008. The cycling team won the 2007 Division I USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships.

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 Native American students.

The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band rallies football fans with arrangements of "All Right Now" and other contemporary music.

The Stanford sports teams are now officially referred to as the Stanford Cardinal, referring to the deep red color, not the cardinal bird. Cardinal, and later cardinal and white has been the university's official color since the 19th century. The Band's mascot, "The Tree", has become associated with the school in general. Part of the 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 U.S. Open Series tennis tournament, the Bank of the West Classic, at Taube Stadium. Cobb Track, Angell Field, and Avery Stadium Pool are considered world-class athletic facilities. Stanford Stadium hosted Super Bowl XIX on January 20, 1985, featuring the local San Francisco 49ers defeating the Miami Dolphins by a score of 38–16.

Stanford has won the award for the top ranked collegiate athletic program — the NACDA Director's Cup, formerly known as the Sears Cup — every year for the past fifteen years. The Cup has been offered for sixteen years.

NCAA achievements: Stanford has earned 96 National Collegiate Athletic Association national team titles since its establishment, the second-most by any university, and 421 individual NCAA championships, the most by any university.[107]

Olympic achievements: According to the Stanford Daily, "Stanford has been represented in every summer Olympiad since 1908."[108] As of 2004, Stanford athletes had won 182 Olympic medals at the summer games; "In fact, in every Olympiad since 1912, Stanford athletes have won at least one and as many as 17 gold medals."[109] Stanford athletes won 24 medals at the 2008 Summer Games–8 gold, 12 silver and 4 bronze.[110]

Notable alumni, faculty, and staff

Vinton Cerf, the "father of the Internet", graduated from Stanford.

Stanford alumni started companies including Hewlett-Packard (William Hewlett and David Packard), Cisco Systems (Sandra Lerner and Leonard Bosack), NVIDIA, SGI, VMware, MIPS Technologies, Yahoo! (Chih-Yuan Yang and David Fillo), Google (Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page), Wipro Technologies, Nike, Gap (Doris Fisher) and Sun Microsystems. The Sun in Sun Microsystems originally stood for "Stanford University Network."[111][112]

Stanford's current community of scholars includes:

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama[114], former U.S. President Herbert Hoover, former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak are alumni.

NFL quarterbacks Jim Plunkett, Trent Edwards and John Elway, NFL receivers Gordon Banks and Ed McCaffrey, NFL Fullback Jon Ritchie, runner Ryan Hall, MLB starting pitcher Mike Mussina, MLB left-fielder Carlos Quentin, Grand Slam winning tennis players John McEnroe (did not graduate) (singles and doubles) and (doubles) Bob and Mike Bryan, professional golfer Tiger Woods (did not graduate), New Zealand Football and Blackburn Rovers Defender Ryan Nelsen, Olympic swimmers Jenny Thompson, Summer Sanders and Pablo Morales, Olympic figure skater Debi Thomas, Olympic water polo players Tony Azevedo and Brenda Villa, Olympic softball player Jessica Mendoza, Heisman finalist Toby Gerhart, and actress Reese Witherspoon (did not graduate) are alumni.

Actresses Jennifer Connelly and Sigourney Weaver (her alumni status was featured in the 2009 film Avatar), actor Fred Savage, and political commentator Rachel Maddow are prominent graduates.


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Further reading

  • Ronald N. Bracewell, Trees of Stanford and Environs (Stanford Historical Society, 2005)
  • Ken Fenyo, The Stanford Daily 100 Years of Headlines (2003-10-01) ISBN 0974365408
  • Jean Fetter, Questions and Admissions: Reflections on 100,000 Admissions Decisions at Stanford (1997-07-01) ISBN 0804731586
  • Ricard Joncas, David Neumann, and Paul V. Turner. Stanford University. The Campus Guide. Princeton Architectural Press, 2006. Available online.
  • 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


  • DVD: Legends of Stanford (2008-09-23) UPC: 182490000514 Amazon entry

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Various place names from Old English stān (stone) + ford (ford).


  • (US) IPA: /ˈstænfərd/

Proper noun




  1. A habitational surname.
  2. A male given name transferred from the surname.
  3. A private university in the Bay Area of California.

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