A Century at Stanford

A look at issues and events that shaped campus history

November/December 1997

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100 years ago (1897)
President David Starr Jordan returned from a second summer as chief U.S. representative to an international commission investigating the future of Bering Sea seal herds threatened with extinction. On campus, he reported that Alaska's resources were being wasted, and that soon there might be nothing left in the territory except starving native peoples and gold prospectors.

Five students were among the many stricken with "Klondikitis." Lured by reports of rich discoveries in Canada's Klondike Gold Rush, they left school to seek their fortunes.

75 years ago (1922)
The University was in the midst of a campaign to raise $3 million. The first million, already pledged, was to be added to the endowment and used to improve faculty salaries and to build the Toyon Hall men's residence and the Encina Commons dining facilities. The second million, sought from alumni, would provide for new biology and law buildings and a new women's gymnasium. The general public was being asked to help raise the third or so-called medical million, which would benefit the Medical School.

50 years ago (1947)
Student enrollment jumped to a record 8,223, an increase of more than 1,000 over the previous year. This dramatic expansion produced unprecedented registration lines and required the introduction of noon and evening classes as well as a heavier schedule of 8 a.m. and afternoon sessions. Many students were veterans returning on the GI Bill. During the war, women outnumbered regularly enrolled men (although not the combined total of regular and military men). Now, the campus was back to the prewar ratio of three men to each woman.

Operating from a small wooden shack, the Stanford Radio Club transmitted messages for GIs stationed in the Pacific and for foreign students. The club had 35 members and a 1,000-watt transmitter, W6YX, which was located on a hill overlooking campus.

25 years ago (1972)
The Board of Trustees initiated legal proceedings to remove an 1899 amendment to the Founding Grant that limited enrollment of women to 500. Jane Stanford had imposed the limit after the percentage of female students increased from 25 to 40 during the University's first eight years. Mrs. Stanford was afraid men would be discouraged from attending, thus turning her son's memorial into a women's school. In 1933, trustees decided to increase the women's quota to roughtly 40 percent of the student body. The move to amend the Founding Grant would eliminate any reference to quotas.

Students voted overwhelmingly to creat an independent, nonprofit corporation to publish the Stanford Daily, which was owned and published by the Associated Students. For years, student editors had discussed indepenedence as a way of avoiding interference from student government officers. But the precipitating event came in 1970 after an abortive central California prison breakout. In an opinion piece, a graduate student urged readers to "take care of snitches"--in other words, to kill prison informants. Worried about liability, President Richard W. Lyman pushed for the Daily's independence.

The Hoover Institution, known for its research on international affairs, announced plans to start a domestic studies program focusing on immigration, health care, social security, welfare reform, government regulation and drug abuse.

Catherine Peck, '35, writes this column on behalf of the Stanford Historical Society.

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