The Crone is far from academic and not much given to serious study but, since reading the novels of C.P. Snow as a teenager, she has always wanted to work at a large and prestigious university. Watching Inspector Morse only fuelled this desire–all those book lined studies, bowling green lawns, and stairwell intrigues–fabulous.
Having made it to Stanford (albeit only for a one-day meeting), the Crone now feels she may have found her spiritual home. Here, the lawns are replaced by palm courts and medians sprouting wild flowers; cool glasses of California wine are substituted for the pints and whiskies of the good Inspector, but the overall atmosphere of intrigue, ease and excellent taste prevails.
At Stanford, faculty, students and very senior staff all live on the sprawling campus (8000 acres of land–twice the size of Harvard and ten times the size of Yale) and so the Crone feels it safe to assume there is lots of interesting extra-curricular activity. No murders that the Crone knows of, but there is an “intersection of death” known as the IOD, where students tear into the quadrangle on bikes and skateboards.
The founding of the university is a tragic story: Jane and Leland Stanford, having lost their only son to typhoid while he was on the Grand Tour in Florence, put all their money and land into a seat of learning to allow other people’s children to realize their full potential.
Not all of other people’s children of course. Stanford takes only 7% of those that apply. Its $12.6 billion endowment allows it to offer full scholarships to the brightest and best whose families cannot afford tuition. Condi Rice is back here now, teaching international relations. The school is particularly famous for its engineering and high-tech programs. Lots of the silicon valley big names got their start here, and give back generously. The Crone visited the Y2E2 center for earth sciences, part-funded by the founder of Yahoo, an alum of Stanford, natch. The building uses 50% less energy than other more traditional constructions. Naturally, the students cycle to classes held there.
Last night, the Crone was invited to stay at the home of some friends on campus. Their home features the sort of contemporary art you usually only see at the Whitney. After a delicious Japanese dinner, the Crone was dispatched to bed with an ipad and kindle, in case she wished to watch a movie or read a novel or just relax with pocket pond–an app that allows you to drift off lulled by the sound of koi idly swimming in a pond full of water lilies. All very Silicon Valley and even better than a night in with Inspector Morse.
Today, she was treated to a tour of the campus, including the Rodin sculpture garden, the museum the Stanford’s built to honor their son, and the quadrangle. Thank you Larry for one of the most enjoyable days I can remember. As California’s governor once said ” I’ll be back”.