125 Stanford Stories

NO. 69
Student Life

Cardinal service

For decades, "Con Home Week" was a student service initiative benefiting the Stanford Home for Convalescent Children. Precursor to today's Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, it operated until the mid-1960s in Jane and Leland Stanford's former Palo Alto home.
Stanford University Archives
In 1971, 100 kids from East Palo Alto played sports and attended cultural activities in a free summer camp organized by Stanford fullback and philosophy major Hillary Shockley '72 and his fellow athletes. Here they shoot hoops in 2-year-old Maples Pavilion.
Chuck Painter/Stanford News Service
owen house
The Public Service Center, now the Haas Center for Public Service, was founded in 1985 in this house near the Row.
Stanford University Archives
Haas Center for Public Service
The center became the Haas Center for Public Service in 1989, honoring the $5 million gift of the Haas family of San Francisco to create a founding endowment. Staffers celebrate in this 1990 photo.
Stanford University Archives
Quad 02 – Haas Center (first set)
The Haas Center for Public Service today.
Stanford News Service
Vy Tran '16 began a life-altering public service journey as a medical interpreter for patients at a nearby medical center.
Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service
As a freshman, Harrison Phillips volunteered at the East Palo Alto Music, Mural and Arts Project to fulfill a course requirement. Since then, the rising junior has found many ways to combine studies, sports and service as a college student.
Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service

Students realize Jane Stanford’s hope that they use their schooling for good

Rising junior Harrison Phillips juggles Cardinal football practices, Stanford coursework and a hefty plate of public service that includes tutoring, weekly help at a homeless shelter and frequent sessions at a mentoring nonprofit group for at-risk kids.

Phillips calls himself “passionate about serving.” He joins and enriches a tradition of service that has distinguished Stanford for 125 years.

Today, Stanford students are encouraged to view service not just as a positive activity but as a critical part of self-fashioning. They become thinkers, learners and founders for social good.

They’re supported in this path by Cardinal Service, a university-wide initiative to elevate and expand service as a distinctive feature of a Stanford education. Its hub is the Haas Center for Public Service, home to dozens of initiatives that range from one-time events to quarter-long courses to long-term mentorships and career placements. Financial support helps to ensure that all Stanford undergraduates can participate. More than 1,000 Stanford undergraduates take part in Haas Center programs every year.

I’ve learned so much more from public service than I can ever give back. I would not be who I am today without my public service experiences paving the way.

– Vy Tran ’16

University co-founder Jane Stanford wrote in 1901 that she intended a Stanford education to equip its recipients for a life of service. While aspects of the new campus seemed luxurious – Lagunita, beautiful foothills, plentiful sports fields – they coexisted from the start with her intent that students use their experience for the public good.

The year after Jane Stanford’s death, Stanford students rushed to San Francisco to aid victims of the 1906 earthquake and fire. For decades, they supported the convalescent home for children that occupied the Stanfords’ former Palo Alto residence. In 1964, Stanford sent one of the three largest contingents of university volunteers to the Freedom Summer civil rights project in the U.S. South. In the 1980s, support for student service efforts became a featured objective in Stanford’s Centennial Campaign.

As Stanford students, we have been provided skills and potentials which can be put at the immediate disposal of deprived communities.

– Hillary Shockley ’72

Stanford’s Public Service Center opened in 1985. Four years later, it became the Haas Center for Public Service with a $5 million gift from the Haas family of San Francisco.

Today, Stanford students choose from a dizzying range of service options. More than 100 courses each year couple academic learning with social and environmental issues. More than 125 service groups and programs channel students’ volunteer energy. Cardinal Quarter offers funded full-time placements in nonprofit organizations. Residence in Branner Hall, Stanford’s public-service dorm, allows undergrads to integrate service into daily life.

Read more about the many ways Stanford helps students learn about themselves and the world through the lens of service.