The university officially opened on October 1, 1891 to 555 students. On the university's opening day, Founding President David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) said to Stanford's Pioneer Class: "Stanford is hallowed by no traditions; it is hampered by none. Its finger posts all point forward." However, much preceded the opening and continued for several years until the death of the last Founder, Jane Stanford, in 1905 and the destruction of the 1906 earthquake. Foundation Stanford was founded by Leland Stanford, a railroad magnate, United States senator, and former California governor, together with his wife, Jane Lathrop Stanford. It is named in honor of their only child, Leland Stanford, Jr., who died in 1884 just before his 16th birthday. His parents decided to dedicate a university to their only son, and Leland Stanford told his wife, "The children of California shall be our children." The Stanfords visited Harvard's president, Charles Eliot, and asked whether he should establish a university, technical school or museum. Eliot replied that he should found a university and an endowment of $5 million would suffice (in 1884 dollars; about $131 million today).
Leland Stanford, the university's founder, as painted by Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier in 1881 and now on display at the Cantor Center The university's Founding Grant of Endowment from the Stanfords was issued in November 1885. Besides defining the operational structure of the university, it made several specific stipulations: "The Trustees ... shall have the power and it shall be their duty: To establish and maintain at such University an educational system, which will, if followed, fit the graduate for some useful pursuit, and to this end to cause the pupils, as easily as may be, to declare the particular calling, which, in life, they may desire to pursue; ... To prohibit sectarian instruction, but to have taught in the University the immortality of the soul, the existence of an all-wise and benevolent Creator, and that obedience to His laws is the highest duty of man. To have taught in the University the right and advantages of association and co-operation. To afford equal facilities and give equal advantages in the University to both sexes.
To maintain on the Palo Alto estate a farm for instruction in agriculture in all its branches." Though the trustees are in overall charge of the university, Leland and Jane Stanford as Founders retained great control until their deaths. Despite the duty to have a co-educational institution in 1899 Jane Stanford, the remaining Founder, added to the Founding Grant the legal requirement that "the number of women attending the University as students shall at no time ever exceed five hundred".
The Stanford University Founding Grant (pdf), dated November 11, 1885, outlines the founding principles of the University. The Founding Grant describes the "Nature, Object, and Purposes of the Institution" founded by Leland Stanford and Jane Lathrop Stanford in these terms: Its nature, that of a university with such seminaries of learning as shall make it of the highest grade, including mechanical institutes, museums, galleries of art, laboratories, and conservatories, together with all things necessary for the study of agriculture in all its branches, and for mechanical training, and the studies and exercises directed to the cultivation and enlargement of the mind.
Its object, to qualify its students for personal success, and direct usefulness in life; And its purposes, to promote the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization, teaching the blessings of liberty regulated by law, and inculcating love and reverence for the great principles of government as derived from the inalienable rights of man to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
tanford alumni have started many companies and, according to Forbes, has produced the second highest number of billionaires of all universities, behind Harvard. Companies founded by Stanford alumni include Hewlett-Packard (William Hewlett and David Packard), Cisco Systems (Sandra Lerner and Leonard Bosack), Nvidia (Jen-Hsun Huang), SGI, VMware, MIPS Technologies, Yahoo! (Chih-Yuan Yang and David Filo), Google (Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page), Wipro Technologies (Azim Premji), Nike (Phil Knight), Gap (Doris F. Fisher), Palantir Technologies (Joe Lonsdale and Stephen Cohen), PayPal (Peter Thiel and Elon Musk), Logitech, Instagram, Snapchat, and Sun Microsystems (Vinod Khosla).
The Sun in Sun Microsystems originally stood for "Stanford University Network." Other companies and organizations founded or co-founded by Stanford alumni include the Special Olympics, LinkedIn (Reid Hoffman), Netflix (Reed Hastings), Yammer (David O. Sacks), Varian Associates, Pandora Radio, Electronic Arts, Trader Joe's, Dolby Laboratories, Capital One, Renren (the Chinese version of Facebook), TechCrunch, IDEO, Kiva.org, Acumen, Victoria's Secret, Firefox, Match.com, WhatsApp (Brian Acton) and Participant Media.