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Athletic Department

Stanford University

From the Foothills to the Bay

Stanford University still enjoys the original 8,100 acres of grassy fields, eucalyptus groves, and rolling hills that were the Stanfords’ generous legacy.

Stanford at a Glance

On October 1, 1891, the 465 new students who were on hand for opening day ceremonies at Leland Stanford Junior University greeted Leland and Jane Stanford enthusiastically, with a chant they had made up and rehearsed only that morning. Wah-hoo! Wah-hoo! L-S-J-U! Stanford! Its wild and spirited tone symbolized the excitement of this bold adventure. As a pioneer faculty member recalled, "Hope was in every heart, and the presiding spirit of freedom prompted us to dare greatly."

For the Stanfords on that day, the university was the realization of a dream and a fitting tribute to the memory of their only son, who had died of typhoid fever weeks before his sixteenth birthday. Far from the nation’s center of culture and unencumbered by tradition or ivy, the new university drew students from all over the country: many from California; some who followed professors hired from other colleges and universities; and some simply seeking adventure in the West. Though there were many difficulties during the first months — housing was inadequate, microscopes and books were late in arriving from the East — the first year foretold greatness. As Jane Stanford wrote in the summer of 1892, "Even our fondest hopes have been realized."

Ideas of "Practical Education"

Governor and Mrs. Stanford had come from families of modest means and had built their way up through a life of hard work. So it was natural that their first thoughts were to establish an institution where young men and women could "grapple successfully with the practicalities of life." As their thoughts matured, these ideas of "practical education" enlarged to the concept of producing cultured and useful citizens who were well-prepared for professional success.

More than one hundred years later, the university still enjoys the original 8,180 acres (almost 13 square miles) of grassy fields, eucalyptus groves, and rolling hills that were the Stanfords’ generous legacy, as well as the Quadrangle of "long corridors with their stately pillars" at the center of campus. It is still true, as the philosopher William James said, during his stint as a visiting professor, that the climate is "so friendly ... that every morning wakes one fresh for new amounts of work."

Current Perspectives

In other ways, the University has changed tremendously on its way to recognition as one of the world’s great universities. At the hub of a vital and diverse Bay Area, Stanford is an hour’s drive south of San Francisco and just a few miles north of the Silicon Valley, an area dotted with computer and high technology firms largely spawned by the University’s faculty and graduates. On campus, students and faculty enjoy new libraries, modern laboratories, sports facilities, and comfortable residences. Contemporary sculpture, as well as pieces from the Stanford Museum’s extensive collection of sculpture by Auguste Rodin, is placed throughout the campus, providing unexpected pleasures at many turns. At the Stanford Medical Center, world-renowned for its research, teaching, and patient care, scientists and physicians are searching for answers to fundamental questions about health and disease. Ninety miles down the coast, at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station on the Monterey Bay, scientists are working to better understand the mechanisms of evolution, human development, and ecological systems.

The University is organized into seven schools: Earth Sciences, Education, Engineering, the Graduate School of Business, Humanities and Sciences, Law and Medicine. In addition, there are more than 30 interdisciplinary centers, programs, and research laboratories — including the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace; the Institute for International Studies; the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center; and the Stanford Center for the Study of Families, Children and Youth — where faculty from a wide range of fields bring different perspectives to bear on issues and problems. Stanford’s Overseas Studies Program offers students in all fields remarkable opportunities for study abroad, with campuses in Paris, Kyoto, Santiago, Berlin, Oxford, Florence, and Moscow.

Stanford People

By any measure, Stanford’s faculty — which numbers approximately 1,500 — is one of the most distinguished in the nation. It includes 12 Nobel laureates, 6 Pulitzer Prize winners, 20 National Medal of Science winners, 109 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 208 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 72 members of the National Academy of Engineering, and 21 members of the National Academy of Education. Yet beyond their array of honors, what truly distinguishes Stanford faculty is their commitment to sharing knowledge with their students. The great majority of professors teach undergraduates both in introductory lecture classes and in small advanced seminars.

Currently 13,900 students, of which 6,556 are undergraduates, live and study on campus. About 40 percent come from California, but all 50 states and approximately 100 countries are represented as well. Among undergraduates, 44 percent are African American, Asian American, Hispanic or Native American. Like the faculty, the Stanford student body is distinguished. Approximately 10 students apply to Stanford for every place in the freshman class. Seventy-six Stanford students have been named Rhodes Scholars and 52 have been named Marshall Scholars. Nearly 90 percent of graduating seniors plan to attend graduate or professional schools. Stanford students also shine in a tremendous array of activities outside the classroom — from student government to music, theater, and journalism. Through the Haas Center for Public Service, students participate in dozens of community service activities, such as tutoring programs for children in nearby East Palo Alto, the Hunger Project, and the Arbor Free Clinic.

In the athletic arena, Stanford students have enjoyed tremendous success as well. Stanford fields teams in 33 Division I varsity sports — equally divided between men’s and women’s teams. Of Stanford’s 88 national team titles, 38 have been captured in the past 10 years, by far the most in the nation. Thirty-eight of Stanford’s athletes and coaches participated in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona while 49 competed in Atlanta at the 1996 Games — by far the most of any university in the nation, and 34 participated in the 2000 Games in Sydney. Intramural and club sports are also popular; over 1,000 students take part in the club sports program, while participation in the intramural program has reached 9,000, with many students active in more than one sport.

Looking Ahead

In her address to the Board of Trustees, in 1904, Jane Stanford said, ". . . Let us not be afraid to outgrow old thoughts and ways, and dare to think on new lines as to the future of the work under our care." Her thoughts echo in the words of former Stanford President Gerhard Casper, who has said, "The true university must reinvent itself every day. . . . At Stanford, these are days of such reconsideration and fresh support for our fundamental tasks — teaching, learning, and research."


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