Brown University has a fairly undistinguished campus, one hardly in the same league (pun intended) as those of Princeton, Harvard, and Yale, but the central Green is lovely with University Hall (used as a hospital during the Revolutionary War) and the Gothic and Romanesque classroom buildings. The recent brick Geo-Chem buildings to the East are also a wonderful improvement upon the disasters of the Science Library and the dreadful Barus-Holley, which houses Physics and Engineering. The residential quads are attractive pseudo-18th century buildings, but much of the university is spread around in former wood and brick mansions, some of them beautifully painted.
Until the 1960s Brown University was the least popular of the Ivy League schools and not really much of a university. It had a reputation as the place graduates of boarding schools who could not get into other Ivy League schools went, and it drew most of its students from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Then, it created engineering and medical schools (and now lately a school of public health), but it shot up to prominence with the so-called New Curriculum, which meant simply that it had no distribution requirements. During the early '70s applicants were attracted by an Ivy League university that seemed be saying students knew what they wanted and needed, no matter how ignorant or naive they were. Of course, individual departments had rigorous majors (called concentrations at Brown), and the experimental approach gradually tightened loopholes, but rightly or wrongly Brown become and has remained the fourth most popular Ivy school, and with popularity came better students. So the New Curriculum worked, tho' not in the way planned.
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