BU was founded by Methodist ministers in 1839 as the Newbury Biblical Institute in Newbury, VT. Ten years later, it moved to Concord, New Hampshire. In 1869, the school was chartered as a university by Lee Claflin, Jacob Sleeper, and Isaac Rich, as well as Acting President William Warren. (All of these men currently have BU dormitories named after them — Claflin, Sleeper and Rich Halls in West Campus, and the infamous Warren Towers on the East side.) Despite its Methodist heritage, BU's new charter decreed it would not refuse admission to any student based on religious preference.
In 1872, the Great Boston Fire destroyed all but one of BU buildings, and the university had to rebuild its finances and infrastructure completely in the following years. Many new buildings were erected throughout the city, but there was no unified spot to anchor the campus. To solve this problem, BU built its Charles River campus in 1937.
BU was the first university to admit women to all its academic programs and awarded the first PhD to a woman. Through the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, the university was a hub of political protest and activity, earning it the nickname “Berkley East.” Since its founding, the school has continued to expand its facilities and programs, currently covering over 130 acres with 320 buildings throughout the greater Boston area, predominantly on Commonwealth Avenue.
The Charles River Campus (the main campus) tracks down the Green Line along Commonwealth Avenue for a mile and a half. The main campus contains the majority of student housing and academic buildings. Due to the constant expansion, there are a diverse range of architectural influences and styles on the main campus. The School of Theology and the College of Arts and Science were built in the 1930s and have a Gothic feel, while most administrative and smaller academic buildings are classic brownstones. Some of the larger dorms are more aesthetically severe and have a more modern feel.
The Boston University Bridge over the Charles River connects the main campus with West Campus.
The campus has made recent progress in its quest to become more centralized and less spread out. The John Hancock Student Village opened in the 1990s, introducing new fitness facilities, dorms, and a large arena for arts and other events on campus. Many new buildings and improvements are scheduled to begin in the coming years.
Boston is a vibrant city that's home to the largest population of college students in the country. The school is the city’s fourth-largest employer, and the BU administration makes a concerted effort to remain an integral part of Boston’s cultural landscape.
My favorite thing about BU has to be the surroundings. Sure, a couple miles of Comm Ave don’t make for the most picturesque campus—-no rolling greens, few ivy-covered buildings (except in brochures, where they are everywhere), and no quad to speak of, but you can’t beat the location. We’re in the heart of the madness of Fenway every spring and fall, across the river from the cultural scene of Cambridge, a quick walk from Newbury Street or a T ride from Faneuil Hall.
We are on the B line once it comes above ground, and if you really feel like it, you can ride it all the way to Boston College for a football game or a weekend party. We border on Brighton, Alston, and Brookline, each with its own unique flavor and attractions to offer. Basically, BU has all the benefits of living right in the city while still being far enough away to see the sun, not to mention breathe a little easier. And the recently undertaken Comm Ave Improvement Project has already begun to show benefits, making our main drag even better looking. All in all, we’ve got the ideal spot here for access to the best of what Boston and its suburbs have to offer.
Alex Leavitts ’09 shares some BU traditions:
"Midnight Madness is the opening night of BU's college basketball season.
BU's Funniest Student Competition has been held during the fall semester for the past three years, and it's not likely to die out soon. The team behind BU's Funniest Student Competition asks students to sign up for a five minute stand-up comedy act. After the first round, a panel of judges (usually from the BU administration) votes and chooses a number of students to perform a second time, for ten minutes in the final round. The audience of students decide the winner. The competition entertains a packed house, usually over five hundred students overflowing from BU's central venue, with more than a dozen students signed up as comedians. Previous winners of the competition have gone on to open for BU guests, while many of the contestants still perform around Boston in local comedy joints.
The Dear Abbeys, an all-male a capella group, holds two main performances during the year: one show in the fall and one in the spring, where they perform to hundreds of screaming fans. The Dear Abbeys organize a special rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas, incorporating the entire audience. Though not even close to an imitation of the sonorous a capella notes sung by the Abbeys, The Twelve Days of Christmas leaves an impression on every concertgoer. The chorus splits the audience into groups, matching rows of seats with a day of the carol. In turn, the audience belts out the lyrics, imitating the words physically through an odd interpretive dance. The tradition remains a perfect complement to the Dear Abbeys' yearly winter concert.
The small, misshapen boulder known as Greek Rock (origins unknown) used to lie at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and the BU Bridge. However, thanks to Boston University's project to beautify the campus, facilities management moved the rock to its latest home on the edge of the BU Beach, the grassy lawn and popular hangout point behind Marsh Chapel. No matter its location, the Rock will always be known for getting tagged in spray paint by the fraternities and sororities on campus, as well as many extracurricular clubs vying to get their name on the stone billboard. The Rock remains in some ways symbolic of the school and its many students and groups. Painting the rock has always been a challenge, though, because its ownership constantly changes hands throughout the academic year. While the fraternities and sororities battle to decorate it (and occasionally hold contests for best embellishments), clubs across campus frequently use it for a bit more advertising."
Joan Baez (attended) was a legendary folk singer and activist.
Faye Dunaway (1962) is an Academy Award-winning actress.
Mitchell Modell (1976) is the CEO of Modell’s Sporting Goods.
Julianne Moore (1983) is an Academy Award-winning actress.
Howard Stern (1976) is a controversial radio talk-show host.
The BU Terriers compete in Division I men’s basketball, golf, ice hockey, track, crew, soccer, swimming, tennis, and wrestling. The women’s varsity teams compete in the same division in basketball, cross country, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, crew, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, and track.
BU also has a roster of 27 club sports available. A special shout-out goes to the BU table-tennis club team, which has ranked consistently in the top-ten nationwide.
The new Agganis Arena is a spectacular sports facility that opened just three years ago. Lastly, the Boston Terrier mascot is named “Rhett.”
Boston University’s all male a cappella group, The Dear Abbeys, won the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella in 2005.
The Boston University Bridge is the only place in the world where a boat can sail under a train driving under a car driving under an airplane.
There are currently three Nobel Prize winners on the BU faculty.
Harry Agganis, the "Golden Greek," played Terrier football, baseball, and basketball while at BU. He rejected an offer from the NFL's Cleveland Browns in order to play baseball with the Red Sox. He took courses in the off-season, and in 1954 received his diploma at Fenway Park, where he was playing. The new BU sports arena is named for him.
A previously un-produced version of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, forerunner of the very significant off-Broadway production, was performed at the Boston University Theater.
Boston University's housing system is the one of the largest in the country. The university guarantees on-campus housing for four years for all undergraduate students who opt in, and 76% of the undergraduate population lives on campus. All students living in dormitories must sign up for a year-long meal plan, which offers a combination of meals and dining points that can be used as cash in certain on-campus facilities.
Dorms at BU are scattered all around campus. There are so many options for on-campus housing, and living in a dorm is only one of them. The major dormitories on campus are Warren Towers, Towers, West Campus (comprised of three large towers), Myles Standish Hall, and Shelton Hall. Dorm rooms are very small and old. They are usually doubles, however, a few singles or even triples are possible.
Other on-campus housing, aside from the dorms, are brownstones, apartment-style living, the Student Village, or specialized housing for certain majors and religions. These are all great options, especially when compared to the dorms. The Student Village is a brand-new high-rise building and is a great choice for people who want the luxury of apartment-style living while remaining on campus in a new and clean building. Living in brownstones is a popular option as well. They are very 'Boston' and usually have large windows, high ceilings, and an antique look.