Jesuit Ivy

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"Jesuit Ivy" is the title of a commencement speech delivered at and, subsequently, a nickname given to Boston College, a Jesuit university in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The term was coined in a 1956 commencement address by then-Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy. Speaking at the Jesuit university, he was likely making reference to the Ivy League which had been formally established two years prior, in 1954. The term "Jesuit Ivy" was somewhat of a contradiction in terms. The Ivy League's members were generally Protestant-founded institutions; Boston College had itself been founded in part because Catholics were being denied admission to Harvard University in the nineteenth century. The nickname suggested both Boston College's rising stature and the declining prevalence of discrimination at elite American universities. A Catholic whose family were longtime Boston College benefactors, Kennedy graduated from Harvard in 1940.


John F. Kennedy visited Boston College in an official capacity seven times during his tenures as Massachusetts Senator and President of the United States—more frequently than he visited any other university, including his own alma mater, Harvard. In addition to commencement and convocation speeches, Kennedy addressed BC's Alumni Association, Varsity Club, and College of Business Administration (forerunner to the Carroll School of Management), and offered a series of seminars in the spring semester of 1958. While the...
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