Boston University

In 1839, Methodist ministers opened a new institution to train clergymen. Under the guidance of educational innovators, this became Boston University, chartered in 1869. It was based upon the European model that included colleges, graduate schools, and training schools for the professions. Initially scattered in buildings throughout the city, the University purchased land and built a campus on the Boston bank of the Charles River in the 1920s.

Admission to the new University was without regard to sex, race, or creed, with the exception of the School of Theology. Boston University was the first to grant a theology degree and Ph.D. degree to women, in 1876 and 1877, respectively. Lelia Robinson graduated from Boston University's School of Law in 1881 to become the first female member of the Massachusetts bar. Martin Luther King, Jr., earned his Ph.D. at Boston University in 1955.

One of the University's early innovators was Alexander Graham Bell, a professor in the School of Oratory. His experiments led to the invention of the telephone.

Today Boston University is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States, with more than 30,000 students from all 50 states and 135 countries. Interactions with industry, commerce, finance, medicine, and technology enrich Boston University's learning environment.

Boston University is home to a renowned faculty, including four Nobel Prize winners: the physicist Sheldon Glashow; the literary figures Derek Walcott and Saul Bellow; and Elie Wiesel, an inspiring witness to the Holocaust.


Dr. John Streider in 1937 was the first surgeon to correct a heart defect characterized by the persistence of fetal circulation after birth, a forerunner of open-heart surgery. In 1945 Boston University's Dr. Chester Keefer conducted the first clinical trials of penicillin, directed the production of the drug, and controlled its rationing.

Dr. Duncan Macdonald, working in Boston University's Physical Research Laboratory, founded ITEK Corporation in 1957 to build electronic defense networks and photo-optical systems for reconnaissance and space exploration.

Dr. Farouk El-Baz
founded and became director of Boston University's Center for Remote Sensing in 1985. His research using the technology of remote sensing has led to advances in the fields of geology, geography, environmental science, and high-technology archaeology.

Photonics Center, devoted to the technology of light, supports research and development in engineering, physics, chemistry, medicine, and biology and provides incubator space for start-up companies. The Center forms business partnerships in which companies draw on the University's expertise and resources to build actual prototypes and spawn new companies.


 Boston University by Sally Ann Kydd, 2002