Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private research university in Stanford, California. Stanford is known for its academic achievements, wealth, close proximity to Silicon Valley, and selectivity; it ranks as one of the world’s top universities.
The university was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford in memory of their only child, Leland Stanford Jr., who had died of typhoid fever at age 15 the previous year. Stanford was a U.S. Senator and former Governor of California who made his fortune as a railroad tycoon.
The school admitted its first students on October 1, 1891, as a coeducational and non-denominational institution.
Stanford University struggled financially after the death of Leland Stanford in 1893 and again after 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 later be known as Silicon Valley. The university is also one of the top fundraising institutions in the country, becoming the first school to raise more than a billion dollars in a year.
Research centers and institutes
As of 2016 the Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Research oversaw eighteen independent laboratories, centers, and institutes.
Other Stanford-affiliated institutions include the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (originally the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center), the Stanford Research Institute (an independent institution which originated at the university), the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace (a major public policy think tank that attracts visiting scholars from around the world) and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (a multidisciplinary design school in cooperation with the Hasso Plattner Institute of University of Potsdam that integrates product design, engineering, and business management education).
Stanford is home to the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute which grew out of and still contains the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project, a collaboration with the King Center to publish the King papers held by the King Center. It also runs the John S. Knight Fellowship for Professional Journalists and the Center for Ocean Solutions, which brings together marine science and policy to address challenges facing the ocean.
Together with UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco, Stanford is part of the Biohub, a new medical science research center founded in 2016 by a $600 million commitment from Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg and pediatrician Priscilla Chan.
Stanford is home to the Cantor Center for Visual Arts, a 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.
The Center’s collection of works by Rodin is among the largest in the world The Thomas Welton Stanford Gallery, built in 1917, serves as a teaching resource for the Department of Art & Art History as well as an exhibition venue.
There are outdoor art installations throughout the campus, primarily sculptures, but some murals as well. The Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden near Roble Hall features includes wood carvings and “totem poles.”
The Stanford music department sponsors many ensembles including five choirs, the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, Stanford Taiko, and the Stanford Wind Ensemble.
Extracurricular activities include theater groups such as Ram’s Head Theatrical Society, the Stanford Improvisors, the Stanford Shakespeare Society, and the Stanford Savoyards, a group dedicated to performing the works of Gilbert and Sullivan.
Stanford is also host to ten a cappella groups, including the Mendicants (Stanford’s first), Counterpoint (the first all-female group on the West Coast), the Stanford Fleet Street Singers, Harmonics, Mixed Company, Testimony, Talisman, Everyday People, Raagapella and O-Tone.