Why It’s The Ivy League

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Long the bastion of quality education, the Ivy League consists of eight world-renowned centers of academic excellence. The very oldest Ivy League college is Harvard University, which was founded in 1636, and was originally called “New College.” Six of the other seven Ivy League colleges were founded before American independence when our country was still just a group of colonies:  Yale University in 1701, University of Pennsylvania in 1740, Princeton in 1746, Columbia in 1754, Brown in 1764, Dartmouth in 1769. The relative newcomer Cornell came along in 1865.

The connection to ivy refers to the universities’ venerable and elegant buildings clad picturesquely in the green vines—an image conjuring up their connection with ancient bodies of learning across the world. It’s worth noting that at some colleges, the planting of the ivy has been a yearly ceremony at various points in their history. According to some, the first usage of the term “Ivy League” was likely used by sportswriter Stanley Woodward in 1933 to describe how the ivy colleges might fare against some smaller opponents. Another story has it that during the 19th century, four of the current Ivy League colleges founded a sports league designated by the Roman numeral IV and that this (now forgotten) league was spoken of as the I-V (eye-vee).

Although there are many fine centers of learning throughout the United States, it is the Ivy League colleges that are perhaps best known for their romantic origins, length of academic record, and prominence of their alumni. In fact, 16 of the 45 U.S. presidents have graduated from an Ivy League university.