Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or simply Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California in the northwestern Silicon Valley on an 8180-acre campus near Palo Alto. It is one of the most prestigious and selective universities in the world.
Leland Stanford, governor of and U.S. senator from California and leading railroad tycoon, and his wife, Jane Lathrop Stanford, founded the university in 1891 in memory of their son, Leland Stanford, Jr., who died of typhoid two months before his 16th birthday. The university was established as a coeducational and nondenominational institution. Tuition was free until the 1930s. The university struggled financially after the senior Stanford's 1893 death and 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 become known as Silicon Valley. By 1970, Stanford was home to a linear accelerator, and was one of the original four ARPANET nodes (precursor to the Internet).
Today, the University comprises various academic components and has nurtured many prominent alumni. It is organized into seven schools, including academic schools of Humanities and Sciences and Earth Sciences, as well as professional schools of Business, Education, Engineering, Law, and Medicine, with a student body of approximately 7,000 undergraduates and 8,900 graduates. Since 1952, 52 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members. Moreover, it has produced the largest number of Turing Award laureates for a single academic institution, and is the alma mater of 30 living billionaires and 17 astronauts, one of the leading producers of members of the United States Congress. Faculty and alumni have founded many prominent companies including Google, Hewlett-Packard, Nike, Sun Microsystems, and Yahoo!, and companies founded by Stanford alumni generate more than $2.7 trillion in annual revenue, equivalent to the 10th-largest economy in the world. Stanford is also home to the original papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Its most recent acceptance rate, 5.69% for the Class of 2017, was the lowest ever recorded in the university's history.
Stanford competes in 34 varsity sports and is one of two private universities in the Division I FBS Pacific-12 Conference. Stanford has won 104 NCAA championships (the second-most for a university), including at least one for each of the last 37 years, and Stanford's athletic program has won the NACDA Directors' Cup every year since 1995. Stanford athletes have won medals in every Olympic Games since 1912, winning 244 Olympic medals total, 129 of them gold. In the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Stanford won more Olympic medals than any other university in the United States and, in terms of total medals won, would have tied with Japan for 11th place.