Dartmouth is a university, not a college

by Tyler Newby | 8/1/94 5:00am

As I waited in line at the Collis Cafe on Friday, I was asked a question which I thought I would never hear on the campus of Dartmouth College. An older gentleman approached me and asked, "Excuse me, but can you tell me where the law school is?"

Taken aback at the seemingly obvious inanity of the question, I immediately responded, "Dartmouth doesn't have a law school."

The gentleman jumped back a few inches, squinted and then asked in a tone laced with disbelief and ridicule, "You mean an institution like Dartmouth doesn't have a law school?"

Feeling a bit defensive, I gave a response any Dartmouth alumnus would be proud to hear.

"No sir, Dartmouth is an undergraduate college," I said, emphasizing the word "college."

The incident troubled me the rest of the day.

While I was initially bothered by the fact that someone had even asked such a question, my concern soon changed into a dissatisfaction with my answer.

I finally came to the conclusion that my answer was more ridiculous than his question. We Dartmouth students have been telling ourselves an idealistic little lie for quite some time &emdash; that Dartmouth is a college, not a university.

But while Dartmouth continues to provide an excellent liberal arts education to its roughly 4,500 undergraduate students, the plain truth is our college is actually an university.

If you do not believe me, subject yourself to the blindfold test. Forget everything The Dartmouth Review preaches. Drop the word "college" from the institution's official title. In essence, become an outsider looking in on Dartmouth without preconceived ideas.

What will you see? You will see that our "college" has one of the nation's top business schools, an engineering school, a medical school and a number of other graduate programs. In fact, it appears the only major graduate program that Dartmouth lacks is a law school. Looking at our school in this light, it does not seem so preposterous when a visitor is dumbfounded that "Dartmouth Law" does not exist.

Dartmouth appears to be a college to the average liberal arts student and a prominent university to graduates. As a history major, the only time I even notice the graduate programs exist is when I walk by the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration and the Thayer Engineering School. Obviously, the connection is closer for an engineering major or student on the pre-med track.

Unlike some students and alumni, I do not think the graduate programs are an inhibition to the school's ability to provide a good liberal arts education.

If Dartmouth can provide both types of education without sacrificing the quality of either, where's the problem? Some students and alumni would cry "idealism, and tradition!" However, if these people would look at the real-life situation, they would realize their objections to Dartmouth's graduate programs are as antiquated as the name "Dartmouth College."

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