The Atlantic

Why the College Scandal Touched a Nonpartisan Nerve

We disagree on just about everything, but we all seem to believe that there are some things money shouldn’t buy.
Source: Brian Snyder / Reuters

In 1884, Leland Stanford, a railroad tycoon, and his wife, Jane, traveled from California to Massachusetts to seek the advice of the president of Harvard University. What, Stanford asked Charles Eliot, would it take to found a world-class university?

“Five million dollars,” Eliot replied.

“Well, Jane,” Stanford, turning to his wife, said after a little silence, “we could manage that, couldn’t we?”

“And 100 years,” Eliot added, according to the version of the story I was told 120 years later, on my first visit to Stanford’s

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