Stanford University

views updated May 18 2018


STANFORD UNIVERSITY. In 1885 a grant of endowment established Leland Stanford Junior College, later Stanford University, in memorial to Jane and Leland Stanford's deceased son, Leland Jr. The $5 million initial grant also included 8,180 acres of Palo Alto farmland owned by Leland Stanford, a former California governor and railroad entrepreneur. Conceived by the renowned landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted, the university's campus was constructed over a period of six years and centered around the Inner Quadrangle and Memorial Church. The red tiled roofs and open arches that still distinguish Stanford's campus suggest the architecture of old California missions and marked Stanford as a part of the Western landscape.

Stanford University emerged during a period of transformation and growth in American higher education. During this time many prestigious colleges became universities, and several new schools were founded, including the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins University. These new universities tended toward a more democratic vision of schooling and embraced the German educational model of including undergraduate and graduate training and emphasizing research as well as teaching among faculty. Stan-ford's mission and practices in many ways reflected these new shifts in American higher education.

The university was founded as a nondenominational, non-tuition-based, and coeducational institution (although restrictions were placed on women's enrollment in 1899). Leland Stanford hoped that the university would provide a balance between technical education and the cultivation of young imaginations, to "qualify students for personal success and direct usefulness in life; and to promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization." In selecting the university's first president, Leland Stanford sought out an educator who would share his educational vision as well as grow with the university. Six months before the opening of the university the Stanfords hired David Starr Jordan, a leading scientific scholar and president of Indiana University, to fill the position.

Stanford University opened it doors in 1891. Located only sixty-three miles from the University of California, Berkeley, the newly founded university faced immediate competition. In its first year Stanford rose to the occasion by enrolling 559 students, from a range of educational backgrounds, into its pioneer class. With a faculty of fifteen, which would triple in the second year, the university established departments based on major subject areas within the humanities and sciences. It also supported an active student life, including a variety of athletic clubs. Under the leadership of Dr. Jordan, who would serve as university president until 1913, Stanford began to build a solid—if not always stable—academic foundation. Yet, in the early years, the most profound challenges to the survival of Stanford University were financial in nature. In 1893, just two years after its founding, Leland Stanford died, sending his estate into legal turmoil. For six years Stanford's funds were held in probate, leading Jane Stanford to consider closing the university temporarily. Stanford University faced a lesser financial setback during the California earthquake of 1906, which destroyed many of the buildings on campus.

In the 1910s, with the retirement of Dr. Jordan as president and the addition of the future president of the United States Herbert Hoover, a pioneer-class graduate, to the board of trustees, Stanford University entered a new period of development. Largely under the leadership of Hoover and his close friend, the president-elect Ray Lyman Wilbur, Stanford began to rise as a research institution. Following World War I President Wilbur reorganized Stanford's departments into schools, including engineering, medicine, the humanities, earth sciences, education, and law, with appointed deans as the head administrators. Wilbur also ended the university's no-tuition policy during this period. Hoover led efforts to build specialized institutions within Stanford University by soliciting donations from private foundations and businessmen to fund the Hoover War Collection (later the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace), established in 1919; the Food Research Institute, founded in 1921; and the Stanford Business School, organized in 1925.

The post–World War II era marked another period of transformation and growth for Stanford, as the university benefited greatly from the U.S. government's increased spending on technological and military research. Stanford University became a key site for governmentsponsored research programs. These research programs became a major source of funds and prestige for the university. The Stanford Research Institute, which focused on electrical engineering, was largely funded through governmental support. In 1961 the Atomic Energy Commission provided over 100 million dollars in financial support to build the path-breaking Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC). Such funding sources not only allowed Stanford to build "steeples of excellence" in specific fields but also made possible other development plans, including the construction of several dormitories and the Stanford Medical Center.

In 2002 Stanford University stood as one of the premier centers of higher learning and research in the country. Enrolling over 6,000 undergraduates and 7,000 graduate students a year, the university continued to attract some of the leading scholars in their fields and has produced a long list of renowned alumni.


Elliot, Orrin Leslie. Stanford University: The First Twenty-Five Years. New York: Arno Press, 1977.

Geiger, Roger. Research and Relevant Knowledge: American Re-search Universities Since World War II. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Lowen, Rebecca S. Creating the Cold War University: The Transformation of Stanford. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

Dayo F.Gore

See alsoEducation, Higher: Colleges and Universities .

Stanford University

views updated Jun 11 2018


Stanford, California
Stanford Center for Professional Development

Stanford University was founded in 1891. It is accredited by Western Association of Schools and Colleges. It first offered distance learning courses in 1969. In fall 2005, there were 1,500 students enrolled in distance learning courses. Institutionally administered financial aid is available to distance learners.
Services Distance learners have accessibility to academic advising, bookstore, campus computer network, e-mail services, library services.
Contact Carleen Wayne, Stanford University, 496 Lomita Hall, Room 300, Stanford, CA94305-4036. Telephone: 650-725-3000. Fax: 650-725-2868. E-mail: [email protected]


Graduate Certificate Artificial Intelligence; Biodesign; Bioinformatics; Cardiovascular Bioengineering; Clinical Informatics; Computer Architecture; Computer Hardware and VLSI Design; Computer Languages and Operating Systems; Computer Science–Foundations in Computer Science; Control and System Engineering; Data Mining and Applications (Statistics); Databases; Decision Analysis; Design for Customer Value and Market Success; Digital Communication; Electronic Circuits; Electronic Devices and Technology; Engineering Mechanics–Mathematical Foundations and Applications; Guidance and Control (Aeronautics and Astronautics); International Security; Management Science and Engineering; Nanoscale Materials Science; Networking (Electrical Engineering); Optics, Imaging, and Communications; Product Creation and Innovative Manufacturing; Quantitative Methods in Finance and Risk Management (Statistics); Risk Analysis (Management Science and Engineering); Signal Processing; Software Systems; Software Systems, advanced; Spacecraft Design and Operation proficiency; Telecommunications; Wireless Personal Communication
MS Aeronautics and Astronautics; Biomedical Informatics; Computer Science; Electrical Engineering; Engineering–Computational and Mathematical Engineering; Management Science and Engineering; Mechanical Engineering


Non-credit —biomedical/medical engineering; biotechnology; business administration, management and operations; business/managerial economics; civil engineering; computer science; computer systems networking and telecommunications; construction engineering technology; electrical, electronics and communications engineering; engineering/industrial management; entrepreneurial and small business operations; finance and financial management services; management sciences and quantitative methods; systems engineering.

About this article

Stanford University

All Sources -
Updated Aug 18 2018 About content Print Topic