Margaret and François leave the Quadrangle through the passageway leading to the Main Library, and turn left.
It is a pleasant alley shaded by big old sycamores, between the outer side of the Quad and the Art dept.
From all sides, the roads are teeming with young people on bicycles or on foot.
The undergrads look happy, the world belonging to them. The grads look more serious and concentrated.
One feature François soon notices is the eerie rareness of children and of older people.
They arrive at Serra mall and take left again. They cross the main access to the campus, and keep on going.
They walk along the William Hewlett teaching center, the David Packard electrical engineering dept, and the Gilbert biological sciences dept.
Finally they reach a building named William Gates computer science.
F.: Why do all these buildings have names?
M.: These are the names of individuals who helped finance them. For example, the computer science bldg was made possible thanks to a grant from Bill Gates and some other benefactors.
M.: There is a strong tradition of philanthropy in the United States. People who have become very rich often invest some of their wealth back into various projects or institutions in particular private educational outfits.
M.: It can be a whole university, as did Leland Stanford, or a building, or an endowed chair.
F.: What's that?
M.: A wealthy person – let's call him John Doe – gives to the university a large sum of money, say $10 million. He specifies that it is to finance, for instance, a teaching in structural anthropology, because John Doe has all his life been quite committed to this discipline. The money is placed into very safe investments, government bonds and such like.
M.: Then the yearly proceeds pay for a professorship, that is the salary of the teacher and miscellaneous related expenses. The official title of the teacher holding the position will be "the John Doe professor of structural anthropology".
F.: I understand. It's a bit like in Europe when, in medieval times, very rich aristocrats built palaces, academies and other monuments.
M.: I guess so.
They arrive at the cafeteria.
F.: I'm a bit tired. Can we stop here?
M.: I wanted to show you the fraternities and sororities. But it'll be for another time.
M.: And someday I'll take you to the radiotelescope. It is called "the Dish". It's on the top of a hill. From there, the view is stunning over the Bay area.
F.: Great. I'm going to order, Maggie. What will you have?
M.: An orange juice please.
F.: A couple minutes later, François comes back with the juice for Margaret and a beer for himself.