Stanford University, Department of Anthropology


On Oct. 1, 1891, Stanford University opened its doors after six years of planning and building. Jane and Leland Stanford had established the university in memory of their only child, Leland Jr., who died of typhoid fever at 15. Within weeks of his 1884 death, the Stanfords determined that, because they no longer could do anything for their own child, they would use their wealth to do something for "other people's" children. It was after their son's death that Leland Stanford turned to his wife and said,

    "The children of California shall be our children."

These words were the real beginning of Stanford University. Leland Stanford devoted to the university the fortune he had amassed during the California 1949 gold rush and his venture in the creation of the transcontinental railway.

On the university's opening day, Stanford's first president, David Starr Jordan said to Stanford's pioneer class: "It is for us as teachers and students in the university's first year to lay the foundations of a school which may last as long as human civilization. ... It is hallowed by no traditions; it is hampered by none. Its finger posts all point forward." Jordan sought professors who combined abilities for teaching and research, and he wrote, "Mr. Stanford wants me to get the best. He wants no ornamental or idle professors."

Today, Stanford has 1,775 tenure-line faculty, senior fellows and center fellows at specified policy centers and institutes, and Medical Center-line faculty. Fifty-four percent of the faculty have earned tenure. Faculty at Stanford are expected to be among the best teachers and researchers in their fields. There are 374 faculty members appointed to endowed chairs. Twenty-five Stanford faculty have won the Nobel Prize since the university's founding.
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