Opening day at Stanford, Oct. 1, 1891. Jordan, inset, said at the ceremony: "Our university has no history to fall back upon; no memories of great teachers haunt its corridors. No tender associates cling ivy-like to its fresh new walls. Traditions and associations it is ours to make."

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David Starr Jordan
President: 1891-1913

The university's first president, David Starr Jordan, didn't have an official installation. He accepted Sen. Leland Stanford's offer to become president on March 22, 1891, but it was the university's opening day, Oct. 1 of that year, that is regarded as the date he took office.

Stanford became an instant university that day, prompting a New York newspaper to later dismiss the former California governor's ambitious venture as "a rich man's folly." Twice the number of students expected, including many women, arrived on opening day. "Our university has no history to fall back upon; no memories of great teachers haunt its corridors," Jordan told a crowd gathered in the Inner Quad. "No tender associations cling ivy-like to its fresh new walls. Traditions and associations it is ours to make."

Over the years, Stanford has done just that.

John Casper Branner -->

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