Tuesday, August 05, 2008

In the late 1800's a middle aged couple arrived at the office of the president of Harvard.

The man asked to see the president.

When asked if he had an appointment, he replied in the negative but added that they were in town only for the day and would be happy to wait for a break in the busy man's schedule.

The two sat quietly for several hours as contractors with rolls of plans and instructors with briefcases full of books entered, sat, and eventually were sent into the inner office.

Sometime after five the president came out and told the secretary not to send any more people in as he was leaving for the day.

The secretary pointed to the couple and explained their patient wait.

The president walked over to them. "I am already late for a faculty meeting. I will give you five minutes"

The man cleared his throat. "Our son was killed this summer in a tragic accident involving a horse he was riding. He had attended Harvard and said it was the happiest time of his life so we would like some kind of memorial here."

The president cut him off. He indicated that if they were thinking of a picture in a hall they were already lined with portraits of alumni who had become senators or ambassadors and, yes, even presidents.

Well something more than that.

Drinking fountain? We have them at every corner. One of our alumni just donated a wing for a building. It cost close to a million dollars.

This campus represents big money, about $100,000,000.

At that point the woman who hadn't said a word up to that point said, " Dear, if that is all a university costs let's build our own."

Without a further word the couple rose and left.

On some farm land they own south of San Fransisco they built their own university.

They named it Leland Stanford Jr. Memorial University.

"It is nice to be important it is more important to be nice."


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