Hewlett and Packard Families Make Stanford a Powerhouse

  • Education
  • 2001

In 2001, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation made an historic announcement that it would be donating $400 million to Stanford University to reinforce its academic programs. This was just the most dramatic in a long series of grants from the Hewlett and Packard families, whose patriarchs had built one of the pioneering computer companies after graduating from Stanford. Way back in 1952, a brand-new engineering building was opened on the Palo Alto campus thanks to gifts from Bill Hewlett and David Packard. The men were the lead donors in nearly all of the capital campaigns the university conducted during their adult lifetimes. They funded faculty, fellowships, buildings, and scholarships. They drew in many other donors, particularly across Silicon Valley, who wanted to follow their philanthropic example.

Even before the 2001 gift announcement, the Hewlett and Packard families and their foundations had donated close to $400 million to Stanford, providing crucial support that in particular pushed the university’s computer, engineering, and science programs to international preeminence. As one college official stated, “only Leland and Jane Stanford have played a larger role in Stanford’s success.” More recently, Nike founder Phil Knight also became a major Stanford donor—with gifts of $105 million in 2006, and $400 million in 2016.