Luke Persichetti Details the Histories of the Top American Universities
It wasn’t long after the first European settlers first met American soil that they began founding higher education institutions. Although the United States had yet to be established, these pioneers knew their young colonies would soon need educated, well-rounded leaders. In response to these future needs, the settlers created what would come to be known as colonial colleges. Yale graduate, Luke Persichetti claims that while some of these original institutions have since faded away, many remain. A handful have even continued to present day, earning the reputation of some of America’s top universities.
Yale University, New Haven
Founded in 1701, Yale is a private research university and acclaimed member of the Ivy League. It was one of the few universities in the country established before the American Revolution that continues to operate today, and the third-oldest higher education institute in the nation.
Formerly called the “Collegiate School”, Yale was formed originally by clergy members in Connecticut who intended to use it as an educational institute for congregational ministers. As the institution grew, it was moved to its current home in New Haven, where the name was finally changed to Yale College. As the American Revolution approached, the school’s curriculum began to extend beyond theology and religious material to include science and humanities, taking it a step closer to becoming the Yale University which is famous in the world today.
Harvard University, Cambridge
Harvard is the oldest higher education system in the United States; its reputation is one of the most highly distinguished in the world. For many centuries, the clerical and civil ranks of Massachusetts’ state government were operated almost entirely by Harvard alum — a fact which attests to its longstanding success. Today, some of the nation’s most prominent leaders and most iconic figures including Mark Zuckerberg, Al Gore, Bill Gates, and even Barack Obama are among the school’s proud graduates.
Founded in 1636, Harvard University was originally referred to simply as “New College” or “the college at New Towne”. It wasn’t until Cambridge alumnus John Harvard donated around 700 pounds of sterling to the library that the institution took on its now-iconic name.
According to Luke Persichetti, although it has since distanced itself from its theological ties, the institution was originally founded to train clergy for the young commonwealth. One of its most essential historical chapters occurred when it received the nation’s first printing press.
Brown University, Providence
Founded in 1764, Brown University was first named “the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island”. While many educational institutions in the country were still focused exclusively on the studies of theology and the grooming of future clergy, Brown was the first U.S. college to accept students on an unbiased basis regarding their religious background and belief. The institution was also the first to introduce a “general education” requirements that allow students more flexibility and self-structuring in their coursework.
As one of the biggest events in Brown University history, the college library was famously moved out of Providence for safekeeping during the American Revolution when thousands of British troops descended upon the nearby harbor. It wasn’t until 1804, following a large donation from Nicholas Brown Jr., that the school received its current name of Brown University.