Jesuit Ivy

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"Jesuit Ivy" is the title of a commencement speech delivered at Boston College, a Jesuit university in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, United States. The term was coined in a 1956 commencement address by then-Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy. Speaking at the Jesuit university, he was likely making reference to the Ivy League, an athletic conference established in 1954. The term "Jesuit Ivy" was somewhat of a contradiction in terms. The Ivy League's members were generally Protestant-founded institutions; Boston College had itself been founded in part to educate Boston's predominantly Irish, Catholic immigrant community in the nineteenth century.[1] The nickname suggested both Boston College's rising stature and the declining prevalence of discrimination at elite American universities. Kennedy, a Catholic whose family were longtime Boston College benefactors, graduated from Harvard in 1940; as did his father in 1912, and his brothers Joe Jr, Robert and Edward in 1938, 1948 and 1956 respectively.

The term has been used as a nickname for the school.

JFK at BC[edit]

John F. Kennedy visited Boston College in an official capacity seven times during his tenures as Massachusetts Senator and President of the United States—more frequently than he visited any other university, including his own alma mater, Harvard. In addition to commencement and convocation speeches, Kennedy addressed BC's Alumni Association, Varsity Club, and College of Business Administration (forerunner to the Carroll School of Management), and offered a series of seminars in the spring semester of 1958. While the Jesuit Ivy speech is perhaps his most well-known address at Boston College, Kennedy's 1963 Convocation Address would prove to be the most historic. It was both the inaugural event of BC's centennial commemoration and one of Kennedy's last public appearances before his assassination.

The Jesuit Ivy Address[edit]

The following is an excerpt of the address given by Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy at the Boston College commencement exercises in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts on June 26, 1956.

Never before in our history has there been a greater need for men of integrity and courage in the public service. Never before in our history has there been a greater need for the people to take up willingly the responsibility of free government. Certainly you as educated Catholics are committed to bear your share of the burden, for the philosophy that you have been taught here at Boston College is needed in the solution of the problems we face. As graduates of the Jesuit Ivy, facing war and peace, with the fate of Western civilization hanging in the balance, the somber question indeed of the survival of our Faith and country at stake, each man among you can afford to answer that call to service.[2]

The Kennedys and Boston College[edit]

The ties between the Kennedy family and Boston College date to John F. Kennedy's grandfather, John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, Boston's second Irish-Catholic mayor and a member of the Boston College Class of 1885. John F. Kennedy's father, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr, became the first Kennedy to attend Harvard instead of Boston College[3] though he remained a long-time Boston College benefactor. In 1946, the Kennedys established the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation and funded the construction of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Memorial Hall at Boston College, now a part of Campion Hall and home to BC's Lynch School of Education. The foundation was led by Senator Edward M. Kennedy up until his death in August 2009. Other Kennedys who have attended Boston College include Kerry Kennedy, Christopher Kennedy Lawford, Christopher George Kennedy, Saoirse Kennedy Hill, Samuel Kennedy Shriver, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., former director of BC's Watershed Institute.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mission & History". Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  2. ^ "Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the Commencement Exercises of Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts". John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. June 13, 1956. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
  3. ^ "Joseph P. Kennedy: The Patriarch & Maker of the Dream". Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2005.

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