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Some 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students populate Stanford University in Palo Alto, a place of swaying palms and red tile-roofed buildings. Stanford employs more than 20,000 people, making it the largest private employer in Santa Clara County, the heart of Silicon Valley. With 8,000 acres of gently rolling land, it’s the county’s largest landowner. Jane and Leland Stanford — a railroad baron, he served as governor of California and U.S. senator — founded the university in 1885 in memory of their only child, Leland Jr., who died at age 15 of typhoid fever.

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