Friday, April 13, 2007

Boston-Area Schools VI: Tufts University (Tina Brooks, Guest Photographer)

I didn't know it until I got back from my trip, but we actually can offer photographs of a sixth Boston-area college, Tufts University, which is located in Medford (north of Cambridge). One of our Texas Tech graduate students, Tina Brooks, attended the same academic conference as I did in Boston. As I later learned, Tina had gone to Tufts during her undergraduate years, and went back to visit on this recent trip. The photos below are hers, along with her descriptions of them.

Shown above is a side entrance to the campus.

This is the library.

This is Goddard Chapel.

This is Carmichael Hall, a dorm and dining hall.

And, lastly, this is Richardson House, an all-female dormitory, where I lived in my freshman year.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Boston-Area Schools V: Harvard

I closed out my tour of Boston-area colleges by taking a ride through Cambridge on a public bus route from MIT (see previous entry) to Harvard. Founded in 1636, Harvard is, according to a university history, the "oldest institution of higher learning in the United States."

From where a visitor would likely arrive on public transportation, one can enter the university through Harvard Yard. Perhaps most prominent among the buildings in Harvard Yard is the famous Widener Library, shown below.

As I walked through the Yard, quaint, picturesque buildings were apparent in all directions, as seen in the shots below.

Heading back out of Harvard Yard, one encounters Harvard Square, the touristy, commercial area by the campus. I took two photos in Harvard Square; they sort of fit together horizontally, like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, so I put them together to display (as you can probably tell, the "CAMBRIDGE SAVINGS" part of the sign at the top is from one picture, and the "BANK" is from the other; you might want to click on the montage to enlarge it).

Among other things, Harvard Square is the home of:

*The Harvard T (subway) station (on the red line, which is easy to remember, as Harvard's sports teams are known as the Crimson).

*Harvard's bookstore, the Coop (pronounced to rhyme with "hoop," not as "co-op"), the sign for which can be seen on the far right-hand side of the oval photo montage (above). The surrounding area, for several blocks, contains what has to be one of the highest concentrations of bookstores in the United States.

*A visitors' center, a newsstand, and miscellaneous other shops.

*An abundant presence of both foot and vehicle traffic.

If you ever visit Boston, an excursion to Harvard is a must!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Boston-Area Schools IV: MIT

On the final full day of my trip to Boston (March 31), I headed out with my camera and took the red line of the T out to Cambridge, home of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, by the Kendall station) and Harvard University.

MIT's most iconic building appears to be the Great Dome (shown below). If you do computer searches on MIT and the Great Dome, you'll likely find a lot on "Hacks" (i.e., pranks) done in conjunction with the Dome, including putting objects on top of it.

Shown next is MIT's Wiesner Building, an I.M. Pei designed edifice that houses, among other units, the school's Media Lab.

Finally, in walking around MIT, one of the neatest things, in my mind, is the panoramic view of Boston you can get from the Cambridge side of the Charles River. In the shot below, you can see Boston's two skyscrapers, the John Hancock Tower (another Pei design) on the left, and the Prudential Tower on the right.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Boston-Area Schools III: Berklee College of Music

The Berklee College of Music, which has absolutely no connection to the University of California, Berkeley, is located immediately west of the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, which is where the academic conference I attended was held.

I would guess that most Bostonians and visitors to town don't give a second thought to Berklee when they pass by its buildings. In my case, however, I took two courses in jazz appreciation at UCLA in the early 1980s as an undergraduate, so I was familiar with Berklee as the alma mater of numerous musicians.

According to this Wikipedia entry on Berklee:

At the time of its founding [1945], almost all music schools focused primarily on classical music. The original mission of Berklee was to provide formal training in jazz, rock, and other contemporary music not available at other music schools.

This emphasis on jazz and rock (including the "fusion" of the two) is illustrated by the following large display on one of the Berklee buildings.

Within jazz, my favorite instrument is the electric guitar. As seen on this list of Berklee alumni, practitioners of this instrument who went to school there include John Abercrombie, Al DiMeola, John Scofied, and Mike Stern. Another jazz guitarist, Pat Metheny, taught at Berklee as a 19-year-old, and later came back to give the commencement address.

Berklee's alumni stretch beyond the aforementioned musical genres, however, to include country. In fact, Dixie Chicks lead vocalist Natalie Maines, from my home base of Lubbock, Texas, received some of her training at Berklee.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Boston-Area Schools II: Boston College

If one were to get on a Green Line B train in the middle of Boston University (see prior entry below) and take it all the way west, one would end up at Boston College, in Chestnut Hill. On the hockey rink -- and probably elsewhere -- BU and BC are major rivals. Further, in contrast to BU's urban/commercial location, BC offers a more traditionally verdant and idyllic campus.

Entering BC from the T (train) stop puts one on the lower level of the multi-tiered campus, which among other things includes this student commons.

A fairly substantial hike up some stairs then took me to a busier part of campus. The next three photos were taken in O'Neill Plaza (on which BC features a live webcam). The first photo features an expansive view of the plaza (or at least attempts to). Seen in the distance is St. Mary's Hall.

Where the shadow is on the right-hand side of the above picture is the O'Neill Library, named after the former U.S. House Speaker. The library appears below.

Depicted last is Gasson Hall, perhaps the most famous building on the BC campus and located across from the library.

Getting to BC and getting around the campus make for a pretty formidable trek, but I would say it's worth it for aficionados of college campuses.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Boston-Area Schools I: Boston University

Boston is the state capital of Massachusetts, as seen below with the State House building in Boston Common. With its high concentration of colleges and universities, Boston also is arguably the U.S. capital of higher education, at least for private institutions.

I was recently in Boston for an academic conference and, during some free time, I rode around on the area's subway/streetcar system, known as the "T," visiting a number of institutions of higher learning. Riding "neath the streets of Boston," I got to Boston University (BU) and the Berklee School of Music within the city, Boston College (BC) in Chestnut Hill, and MIT and Harvard in Cambridge.

Today, I start off a five-part installment on Boston-area higher education with a brief photo essay on Boston University. BU is the quintessential urban university, nestled in near the major interesection of Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street, near the Massachusetts Turnpike. Along with BU, the area features Fenway Park, home of the city's beloved Red Sox, the famous Citgo sign that can sometimes be seen beyond Fenway on baseball telecasts, and Kenmore Square, home to one of the city's busiest T stops. Several bars and clubs make this a raucous night spot, or so I'm told.

Perhaps because the main stretch of campus down Comm Ave. looks a lot more commercial than collegiate, BU provides a ready supply of red school banners, reminding passersby that they are in fact on a college campus.

This next photo vividly shows, I believe, the urban mix in which BU is located. Surrounding BU's School of Management (left) are Comm Ave. and the streetcar tracks in the middle of the street, the aforementioned Citgo sign, and, to the right and a little further in the distance, the thin square Prudential Tower, one of Boston's trademark highrises.

A segment of BU's student housing supply comes from former apartment buildings immediately south of the academic buildings. According to the Wikipedia:

The area is almost entirely brick, walk-up buildings and brownstone townhouses, although over the last 20 years almost every residential building in Kenmore has been purchased by Boston University and turned into dorms, especially in the Audubon Circle area between Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue.

Other than perhaps some schools in New York City and elsewhere in the East, I'm hard-pressed to come up with as strong an example of educational urbanicity as BU.