Leland Stanford Junior University (Stanford University) is a private research university in Stanford, California. Stanford is known for its academic strength, wealth, proximity to Silicon Valley, and ranking 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.
The university is organized around three traditional schools consisting of 40 academic departments at the undergraduate and graduate level and four professional schools that focus on graduate programs in law, medicine, education and business. Students compete in 36 varsity sports, and the university is one of two private institutions in the Division I FBS Pac-12 Conference. It has gained 118 NCAA team championships, the most for a university. Stanford athletes have won 512 (the most) individual championships, and Stanford has won the NACDA Directors’ Cup for 24 consecutive years, beginning in 1994–1995. In addition, Stanford students and alumni have won 270 Olympic medals including 139 gold medals.
As of October 2018, 83 Nobel laureates, 27 Turing Award laureates, and 8 Fields Medalists have been affiliated with Stanford as students, alumni, faculty or staff. In addition, Stanford University is particularly noted for its entrepreneurship and is one of the most successful universities in attracting funding for start-up. Stanford alumni have founded a large number of companies, which combined produce more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue and have created 5.4 million jobs as of 2011, roughly equivalent to the 10th largest economy in the world (as of 2011). Stanford is the alma mater of 30 living billionaires and 17 astronauts, and is also one of the leading producers of members of the United States Congress.