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Published on September 8, 2023
Author – Aanya Janan
Ah, the Ivy League! Hearing the term might instantly conjure images of gothic libraries, academic elites, and future world leaders deeply engrossed in intellectual debates. But there’s so much more to this venerable group of institutions than just academic prowess. Allow me to pull back the curtain and guide you through the lesser-known tales and charming quirks of these prestigious schools.
A Brief on the Basics
Before we embark on this journey, let’s clear up what the Ivy League really is. Comprising eight private schools nestled in the Northeastern U.S., the Ivy League began as an athletic conference. Yes, sports! But over time, the term has come to signify academic brilliance, societal influence, and a dash of old-world charm. The magnificent eight include Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, and Yale.
A Stroll Down Memory Lane
Each Ivy has a history rich and unique, akin to eight siblings with their own tales to tell.
- Harvard, the eldest, founded in 1636, has John Harvard to thank for its name, and, fun fact, for its library too!
- Yale, originating in 1701, was formerly the less catchy “Collegiate School” until Elihu Yale’s generous gift in 1718.
- Princeton, initially the College of New Jersey, was founded in 1746 and, boasting one of the world’s most massive endowments, rebranded in 1896.
- Columbia was established in 1754 as King’s College and holds the honor of being New York’s academic old-timer.
- Brown, started in 1764, made history by being the first U.S. college to throw open its doors to students of all religions.
- Dartmouth, from 1769, was christened in honor of the 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, William Legge, a champion of education.
- Penn was Benjamin Franklin’s brainchild in 1740 and was ahead of its time, offering both undergraduate and graduate courses.
- Cornell, the youngest at 1865, embodies the spirit of universal knowledge, intending to teach and make significant strides in every possible field.
A Dive into the Delightfully Quirky
You’ve probably heard a lot about the Ivies’ brilliance, but have you heard about…
- Dartmouth’s Party Mascot? While tigers and lions are standard mascot fare, Dartmouth went for “Keggy the Keg,” an unofficial mascot that’s a beer keg! Talk about a party school vibe.
- Harvard’s Mysterious Passageways? Rumors have it that secret tunnels snake underneath the historic campus. Were they used during Prohibition, or perhaps for more academic sneaking around?
- Yale’s Secret Society Shenanigans? Skull and Bones isn’t just a dramatic name; it’s a society that boasts members from U.S. Presidents to influential magnates. Its cloak-and-dagger aura has fueled countless conspiracy theories.
- Cornell’s Bear-y Unique Cheerleader? Old tales whisper that in the early 1900s, a live bear would occasionally grace Cornell’s football games. What a sight that must have been!
So, the next time you think of the Ivy League, think not just of its academic laurels, but also of the beer kegs, secret tunnels, and perhaps a bear cheering on a football team. The Ivy League is indeed a blend of the majestic, the historic, and the delightfully offbeat.
Until next time