|New England Small College Athletic Conference
|Sports fielded||26 (men's: 13; women's: 13)|
|Commissioner||Andrea Savage (since 1999)|
Little Ivies (or singular: Little Ivy) is an unofficial term that has been used in the United States to compare small liberal arts colleges (LACs) to the universities of the Ivy League in some way, usually in academic quality and social prestige. The term is most often associated with the member colleges of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), but may also be used to describe other colleges outside of NESCAC that are academically prominent and socially prestigious. The term is generally restricted to colleges located in the northeastern United States, more specifically New England.
Usage of the term
The most common schools included are:
- Members of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), founded in 1971. The founding NESCAC Colleges were: Amherst, Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, Tufts, Union, Wesleyan, and Williams. Union was a founding member of NESCAC, but left in 1977. Connecticut College joined in 1982.
- The so-called "Little Three": Amherst, Wesleyan, and Williams. This former athletic league was founded as the "Triangular League" in 1899. These colleges are selective liberal arts colleges located in New England. The term has also been used to compare the three institutions with the so-called Big Three of the Ivy League: Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.
- The colleges of the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Consortium (CBB), three academically selective colleges in Maine: Bates College, Bowdoin College, and Colby College. These schools are colloquially known as the "Maine Big Three", alluding to the Big Three of the Ivy League.
|Institution||Location||CBB (1965)||Little Three (1899)||NESCAC (1971)||Hidden Ivies (2009)||Acceptance Rate
LAC Rank (2016)
LAC Rank (2015)
|Amherst College||Amherst, Massachusetts||13.7%||2nd||9th||18th||Founding league member (1955) that became NESCAC (1971).|
|Bates College||Lewiston, Maine||21.4%||25th||70th||8th||NESCAC Charter Member (1971).|
|Bowdoin College||Brunswick, Maine||14.9%||4th (tie)||21st||35th||Founding league member (1955) that became NESCAC (1971).|
|Bucknell University||Lewisburg, Pennsylvania||29.5%||32nd||43rd||101st||Competes athletically in the Patriot League.|
|Colby College||Waterville, Maine||22.5%||19th (tie)||44th||52nd||NESCAC Charter Member (1971).|
|Colgate University||Hamilton, New York||23.7%||19th (tie)||40th||48th||Competes athletically in the Patriot League.|
|Connecticut College||New London, Connecticut||36.2%||48th||92nd||100th||Joined NESCAC in 1982.|
|Hamilton College||Clinton, New York||23.9%||14th (tie)||51st||60th||Founding league member (1955) that became NESCAC (1971).|
|Haverford College||Haverford, Pennsylvania||23.3%||12th (tie)||19th||9th||Competes athletically in the Centennial Conference.|
|Lafayette College||Easton, Pennsylvania||29.8%||37th||53rd||140th||Competes in the Patriot League.|
|Middlebury College||Middlebury, Vermont||17.0%||4th (tie)||34th||78th||NESCAC Charter Member (1971).|
|Swarthmore College||Swarthmore, Pennsylvania||14.1%||3rd||7th||4th||Competes athletically in the Centennial Conference.|
|Trinity College||Hartford, Connecticut||31.1%||43rd||81st||183rd||NESCAC Charter Member (1971).|
|Tufts University||Medford, Massachusetts||15.8%||27th (national rank)||24th||39th (national rank)||Tufts is now a large research university with approximately 10,000 students and is no longer a small liberal arts college (LAC). The rankings here are for national universities. However, Tufts is a NESCAC Charter Member (1971) and current member.|
|Union College||Schenectady, New York||37%||38th||66th||149th||NESCAC Charter Member (1971), but left NESCAC in 1977. Currently competes in the Liberty League.|
|Vassar College||Poughkeepsie, New York||23.7%||12th (tie)||28th||28th||Although co-ed since 1969, it remains one of the Seven Sister Colleges. Competes athletically in the Liberty League.|
|Wesleyan University||Middletown, Connecticut||21.9%||14th (tie)||17th||14th||Founding league member (1955) that became NESCAC (1971).|
|Williams College||Williamstown, Massachusetts||16.8%||1st||2nd||13th||Founding league member (1955) that became NESCAC (1971).|
Founding and endowment
|Institution||Year Founded||Founding religious affiliation||2014 Endowment (billion USD)||2014 Endowment per student (USD)|
|Union College||1795||Dutch Reformed||$0.411||$187,000|
- Note Founding dates and religious affiliations are those stated by the institution itself. Many of them had complex histories in their early years and the stories of their origins are subject to interpretation. See footnotes for details where appropriate. "Religious affiliation" refers to financial sponsorship, formal association with, and promotion by, a religious denomination. All of the "Little Ivies" are private and not currently associated with any religion, except Lafayette which remains nominally Presbyterian.
The schools of the Seven Sisters, historically women's colleges, could be considered a counterpart of the Little Ivies. Schools in this group are occasionally described as "little Ivies" themselves; for example, the Business Times of Singapore mentions "Amherst, Williams, Smith, Wesleyan and Swarthmore" as examples, and Greenes' Guides, illustrated in the chart above, ranks Vassar among the "little Ivies".
The Greenes' Guide, Hidden Ivies: Thirty Colleges of Excellence (2000) mentioned Amherst, Bowdoin, Middlebury, Swarthmore, Wesleyan, and Williams in their first assessment. The second edition (2009) included the notation of Bates College, Colby College, Haverford College, Tufts University, and Trinity College. This list excluded Connecticut College and Union College, which are included in Appendix II as "other colleges of excellence."
Examples of use
- The New York Times, February 10, 1955, p. 33 quotes the President of Swarthmore, describing and decrying social snobbery: "We not only have the Ivy League, and the pretty clearly understood though seldom mentioned gradations within the Ivy League, but we have the Little Ivy League, and the jockeying for position within that."
- Harvard Magazine
- Associate Justice Kennedy
- Episcopal High School of Houston
- Midwest Elite Hockey League
- The Williams Club
- The Atlantic Monthly: "Swarthmore, Amherst, Williams"
- Tamalpais Union High School District: "Amherst, Bowdoin, Hamilton, Haverford, Middlebury, Swarthmore, Trinity, Tufts, Wesleyan, and Williams."
- Boston Globe, September 20, 1985, p. 36 refers to "The New England Small College Athletic Conference (alias NESCAC or the 'Little Ivies')".
- "'Little Ivies' big lure for black scholars", Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 29, 2006: mentions Amherst, Middlebury, Holy Cross, Bowdoin, Hampshire as "colleges [that] are sometimes known as 'little Ivies,' because they have the image of exclusivity typical of Ivy League schools."
- The Observer of Case Western Reserve University equates the "Little Ivy League" with the NESCAC ("Mentoring program links faculty and student athletes", Matt Cannan September 22, 2006).
- Little Three
- Quaker Consortium
- Black Ivy League — informal list of colleges that attracted top African American students prior to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s
- Hidden Ivies: Thirty Colleges of Excellence
- Jesuit Ivy — Use of "Ivy" to characterize Boston College
- Public Ivies — Group of public U.S. universities thought to "provide an Ivy League collegiate experience at a public school price"
- Seven Sisters — Historically, these were women's colleges each of which had a close tie to an Ivy League (then, men-only) school.
- Southern Ivies — Use of "Ivy" to characterize excellent universities in the U. S. South
- Tyre, Peg & William Lee Adams (2005), "Prep Chic," Newsweek, May 4, 2005 "23 percent of Taft graduates attended one of the Ivies or little Ivies (Wesleyan, Williams and Amherst)."
- Union-News (Springfield, MA), December 5, 1988, p. 13 (quotes a Bryn Mawr official: "If the Seven Sisters were now Siblings, she asked, did that mean that Wesleyan, Williams and Amherst colleges, referred to as the 'Little Ivies,' were cousins?")
- The New York Times (1970): "Students decline Wesleyan offers," June 15, 1970, p. 28: "Amherst College, a member with Williams and Wesleyan in the Little Ivy League..."
- Potts, David B. (1999) Wesleyan University, 1831-1910: Collegiate Enterprise in New England. Wesleyan University Press, ISBN 0-8195-6360-9. p. 183: "Wesleyan joined Amherst and Williams in early 1899 to form a new 'Triangular League.' Football, baseball and track competition in this league became something of a trial run for later contests in a wide range of sports under the rubric 'Little Three.'"
- Watterson, John Sayle (2002): College Football. Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 0-8018-7114-X. p. ix: "Wesleyan played big-time football in the 1880s and 1890s... but a hundred years later they played a small-college schedule and belong to the Little Three, which also included Amherst and Williams."
- Bello, Michael T. "Around the Courts: College Squash Weekend Highlights (1/30/2011)". College Squash Association. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- "2011 Top 300 Colleges and Universities Ranked by Internet ‘Brand Equity’". The Global Language Monitor. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- Kingston, Paul William and Lionel S. Lewis, "Introduction: Studying Elite Schools in America" (1990). In The High Status Track: Studies of Elite Schools and Stratification. SUNY Press, ISBN 0-7914-0010-7. p. xviii: "More widely recognized is the distinctive cachet of an Ivy League education—and possibly that at the 'Little Three' (Amherst, Wesleyan and Williams) and a small number of other private colleges and universities."
- United States Congress, Senate, Committee on Finance (1951): Revenue Act of 1951. p. 1768. Material by Stuart Hedden, president of Wesleyan University Press, inserted into the record: "Popularly known, together with Williams and Amherst, as one of the Little Three colleges of New England, [Wesleyan] has for nearly a century and a quarter served the public welfare by maintaining with traditional integrity the highest academic standards." Published by the U.S. Government Printing Office, 1951.
- Duckworth, Henry. One version of the facts: my life in the ivory tower. University of Manitoba Press. p. 94. ISBN 0-88755-670-1.
- "Bowdoin Football Featured in Sporting News "50 States, 50 Rivalries" - Bowdoin". athletics.bowdoin.edu. Retrieved 2015-12-25.
- "NESCAC football historical scores". www3.amherst.edu. Retrieved 2015-12-25.
Members of the NESCAC, including: Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College
- Calhoun, Charles (1993). A Small College in Maine. Hubbard Hall, Bowdoin College: Bowdoin College. p. 163.: Bowdoin College. pp. 12, 19.
...Of the three top schools in Maine, the CBB drew the most notation to what was informally characterized as a smaller Ivy League, one that provided an Ivy League education with a smaller student body
- Eaton, Mabel (1930). General Catalogue of Bates College and Cobb Divinity School. Coram Library, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine: Bates College. pp. 34, 38, 49.
- Larson, Timothy (2005). Faith by Their Works: The Progressive Tradition at Bates College from 1855 to 1877. Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine: Edmund S. Muskie Archives. pp. 3, 51.
- Clark, Charles E (2005). Bates Through the Years: an Illustrated History. Edmund Muskie Archives: Bates College, Lewiston, Maine: Edmund Muskie Archives. p. 12.
With a progressive notion of academic integrity, Bates along with Bowdoin became the major figure heads of Ivy League caliber faculty..
- Caldwell, Tanya. "Colleges Report 2013 Admission Rates". New York Times. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "National Liberal Arts Colleges Rankings". US News and World Report. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- "Top 650 Colleges (2015)" (PDF). Center for College Affordability and Productivity. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- "College Guide 2015". Washington Monthly. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
-  Archived May 11, 2005 at the Wayback Machine
- "Are Ivy Degrees Worth the Sacrifices?". Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- "Library Building Projects". Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- "The Selectivity Illusion". Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- The Business Times of Singapore mentions Little Ivies as "elite liberal arts colleges" that are "small and selective." April 17, 2001.
- "Greenes' Guides to Educational Planning: The Hidden Ivies". Retrieved 1 March 2015.
- Greene, Howard and Matthew Greene (2000) Greenes' Guides to Educational Planning: The Hidden Ivies: Thirty Colleges of Excellence, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-095362-4, book description at HarperCollins.com
- Greene, Howard. The Hidden Ivies, 2nd Edition: 50 Top Colleges-from Amherst to Williams. books.google.com. Retrieved 2011-11-04.