While perusing the Stanford Alumni website, I came across two special alumni awards that I hadn’t ever heard of because their names are unique to Stanford. The first is the “Degree of Uncommon Man and Uncommon Woman Award.” Created in 1953, this award is presented to “those men and women who have rendered unique and outstanding service to the University.” Its ‘uncommon’ name comes from a statement made by Stanford’s own Herbert Hoover: “We believe in equal opportunity for all but we know that this includes the opportunity to rise to leadership in other words, to be uncommon.” Though the award is not given at determined intervals, some of its recipients include Lloyd Dinkelspiel (Posthumous), Frederick Terman, and Cecil Green. (Sounds like you too could be the next recipient if a library or auditorium is built in your name.)
The second award I thought was interesting, primarily for its name’s history, is the “Gold Spike Award,” given to alumni who display “exceptional volunteer leadership service in development for Stanford.” It was created in 1969, exactly a century after the original gold spike—which lends the award its name—was driven by Senator Leland Stanford at Promontory, Utah, joining the Central Pacific and Union Pacific rails and connecting the nation’s East and West coasts. That gold spike is 17.6 karat gold with “The Last Spike” engraved on its head. It is on display at Cantor so go have a look!