In the United States there are hundreds of universities. Only eight of them belong to an exclusive club or association called the Ivy League. Each is a private institute of learning; each is thought to excel not only in teaching and adjudication, but also in sports. As in the United Kingdom, a ‘university’ is a collection of colleges gathered under one name, rather like the US is itself a collection of federated states. The only equivalent in Britain to the Ivy League is ‘Oxbridge’ – meaning the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Naturally, the latter are much older.
If your alma mater is one of the eight, it will be a by-word for excellence, both in academe and sport. Most of them have been at their task in education a long time.. Three at least have names that ring round the world – Yale, Harvard and Princeton. This is ‘elitism’ showing its best face. The name ‘Ivy League’ probably stems from main buildings being much decorated with clinging greenery.
The eight universities are, strictly in alphabetical order: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton and Yale.
Brown University is in Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1764, its best known faculties are those of Medicine and Engineering, where research has the same importance as teaching. It is private and co-educational. There are approximately 6000 undergraduates at Brown, plus at least 2000 graduate students reading for a doctorate. Members of the Faculty (teachers) number around 700 with tenure.
Columbia University is situated on the island of Manhattan, New York City, precisely at the junction of 116 Street and Broadway. New Yorkers are rightly proud of their university, though dozens of students enrol from at least a hundred different foreign countries. The university was founded 250 years ago.
Cornell University enlivens and educates Ithaca, also in New York State, and was founded comparatively recently, in 1865. It specialises in Classics and the Sciences spread out among seven colleges. The founders were Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White; there are around 14000 undergraduates there, along with at least half that number again, as graduate students. It is especially famous for athletic pursuits, such as American Football.
Dartmouth College is in Hanover, New Hampshire, and was founded in 1769 by the British colonists, before the American War of Independence. Special faculties include Medicine, Engineering and Business Administration; like all the others, it is private and co-ed. Sport is emphasised, and the campus boasts no less than thirty-four college teams in as many sports.
Harvard University is in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1636 (as ‘New College), assuming the name ‘Harvard’ in 1639. It is the oldest established educational institution in the US. Its Law School welcomes students from right round the world.
Pennsylvania University is private and was founded in 1749, principally by Benjamin Franklin himself. It is in the huge city of Philadelphia. Among the countless faculties is to be found the first ever school of medicine in the United States. It is the 4th oldest educational institution in North America.
Princeton University lies in the town of that name in New Jersey. It was founded under the name of ‘College of New Jersey’ in 1746, becoming ‘Princeton’ in 1756. Some commentators on education say princeton is the richest of all, with a budget of 13 billion dollars – rather more than many small countries. ‘Princeton’ is the most mentioned name in Hollywood film scripts.
Yale University was founded in 1718 in what was the colony of Connecticut. It is the 3rd oldest institute of advanced education in the US. Its original name was the Collegiate School, founded in 1701, which year is always quoted as being the founding year. It actually became Yale in 1718, after a seriously large gift was made by Elihu Yale (a Governor of the British East India Company). Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences was the first in America to award the PH.D. The campus boasts twelve colleges, with more than 11,000 undergraduates and graduate students living and studying in them. Sports are taken as seriously at Yale as at any other Ivy League university; celebrated annual games are the Harvard-Yale Regatta involving sailinmg, navigation, rowing, swimming etc., and of course the famous ‘Game’ of American football between Yale and Harvard.
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