As you start to acquaint yourself with Maryland's colleges, you might discover some basic facts. For instance, you'll learn that the University of Maryland College Park is the largest college in the state, Goucher College was once an all-female institution and Coppin State College is one of the nation's historically black schools. But there are also many obscure bits of information you may not learn by merely walking the campus grounds. Knowing how to find your classes might be useful, but knowing some of these tidbits might be more entertaining.
Founded in 1873, this was the first Catholic college for women to award the four-year baccalaureate degree. Alumni:
Brigadier General Elizabeth P. Hoisington, the first woman general in the U.S. Army
The Hon. Audrey J.S. Carrion, the first Hispanic woman to serve as judge for the Circuit Court for Baltimore City
Sherry Davis, the first female public address announcer for a Major League baseball team (San Francisco Giants)
In 1879, Professor of Chemistry Ira Remsen co-discovered the sweetening agent we know as saccharin.
The campus glee club performed its first concert in 1884, with future President of the United States Woodrow Wilson singing first tenor.
Eight years later, a women's committee funded the creation of Johns Hopkins' School of Medicine on one condition: That female students be admitted on the same terms as males.
In 1948, JHU Biblical historian William Foxwell was able to confirm the authenticity of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Alumni:
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
President Woodrow Wilson
Horror film director Wes Craven Odds & Ends:
Johns Hopkins University campus police are known as "Hop Cops."
The bronze Testudo statue on the University of Maryland College Park campus was once captured by rowdy students from Johns Hopkins and buried in the woods.
Mount Saint Mary's College and Seminary in Emmitsburg was founded in 1808 and remains the oldest independent Catholic college in America. Odds & Ends:
Mount Saint Mary's has so many ghost stories that the college maintains files on local ghosts and folklore. One of the most obscure tales involves the ghost of a former college president, the Rev. Simon Brute, who died in 1839. He has since been seen wandering the campus and has supposedly been "spotted" following groups of students. The most menacing apparition at Mount Saint Mary's can be traced back to 1973. As the story goes, a priest who was living in Room 252 of a residence hall reported hearing strange noises one night. When he left for a few moments and came back, the once orderly room was completely torn apart. He first thought that some of the students were playing a practical joke on him until lights started flickering and the TV turned on and off by itself. He finally moved out of the room. Another priest unknowingly moved in with his pet cat. He soon realized that there was some sort of frightening energy in the room, as the cat would suddenly hiss at the air before hiding under the bed. He also moved out. According to campus legend, this room remains unoccupied.
Founded in 1696 as King William's School, the college wasn't officially chartered as St. John's until 1784.
During the Civil War, the Union Army converted the campus grounds into a receiving station and barracks. In 1863, when Camp Parole was built outside the city limits, the medical corps used the college as a hospital. Northern troops destroyed the campus on the way out, and St. John's board went into debt to repair the damage. The school did not reopen until a year after the war ended. Alumni:
"Star-Spangled Banner" composer Francis Scott Key Sports:
For the last two decades, the "Johnnies" of St. John's have gone mallet-to-mallet with the midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis in a croquet match for the vaunted Annapolis Cup. Odds & Ends:
Scenes from the Winona Ryder drama, "Boys" (1996), were filmed at St. John's College.
Founded in 1866, it was originally a teachers' college with a mission to prepare instructors for the state's public-school system. Its first class had only 11 students. Alumni:
Dave Meggett, the New York Giants' all-time leader in punt-return yardage
"Smallville" actor John Glover, who plays Lex Luthor's corrupt father on the WB show Odds & Ends:
Scenes from "The Curve" (1998), starring Matthew Lillard, were filmed on campus.
One of the state's "newer" campuses, UMBC held its first semester of classes in 1966. It was an entirely commuter campus until 1970. Alumni:
Actress Kathleen Turner, star of John Waters' "Serial Mom"
Soap opera star Crystal Chappell ("The Guiding Light") Odds & Ends:
The college has a not-so-secret series of underground tunnels.
The late and former UMBC President Michael Hooker once admitted to using university funds to purchase his home's lawn furniture, declaring it a "campus entertainment expense."
In the early 1990s, university officials launched a campaign to change UMBC's name in an effort to attract more students. Among the suggestions were Francis Scott Key University and the University of Maryland Baltimore Campus. The Retriever campus newspaper ran a contest, asking students to come up with their creative suggestions. Among them were: The University of Catonsville Left of Arbutus (UCLA) and the University of Maryland Without Football.
The University of Maryland College Park was originally named the Maryland Agricultural College. It was chartered as such in 1856. The university never took the name of Justin S. Morrill, the Vermont senator who introduced the Morrill Land Grant Act that provided federal funds for state colleges to teach agriculture, among other subjects. However, the oldest building on campus -- Morrill Hall -- is named for the legislator.
During the Civil War, General Ambrose E. Burnside and 6,000 soldiers of the Union's Ninth Army Corps, en route to joining General Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia, camped on the College Park grounds.
In 1888, Pyon Su became the first Korean to earn a degree at a U.S. college. He received top honors from what would become the University of Maryland College Park (it was then called Maryland Agricultural College). Unfortunately, Su was hit by a train and killed shortly after graduating. He is buried in nearby Beltsville. Alumni:
Muppets creator Jim Henson
Television journalist Connie Chung Sports:
In 1888, the University of Maryland played its first recorded intercollegiate athletic competitions -- baseball games against the U.S. Naval Academy and St. John's College. Odds & Ends:
The campus of the University of Maryland College Park doubled as Georgetown University for the '80s classic, "St. Elmo's Fire."
The University of Maryland College Park has more African-American students than all but two historically black colleges nationwide -- Howard University and Southern University .
The Wright Brothers designed nearby College Park Airport.
John Paul Jones, one of the country's first Naval heroes, is buried in a sarcophagus in a crypt under the Naval Academy Chapel. As a show of respect, a Marine honor guard patrols the crypt at all times when it is open to the public.
Iran-Contra figure Oliver North (Class of 1968) once fought future Secretary of the Navy James Webb (also Class of '68) for the Brigade Boxing Championship. North was the victor. Alumni:
Legendary Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach
Former NBA All-Star center David Robinson (Both men served their required number of years after graduation before being able to play sports professionally.)
Famous fictional graduates of the Naval Academy include Thomas Magnum of "Magnum P.I.," Steve McGarrett of "Hawaii 5-0" and Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan of "The Hunt for Red October," "Patriot Games" and other books and films. Odds & Ends:
The Academy's Brigade Activities Committee has a notorious reputation. Legend has it that the BAC once placed two tons of Limburger cheese under all the seats on the Army side of the field the day before the famed Army-Navy game at JFK stadium in Philadelphia. The BAC is also credited with once dropping an entire plane-load of ping-pong balls with the words "Go Navy Beat Army" imprinted on them on a dress parade at West Point.
When a young woman puts on a male Midshipman's cap, she owes him a kiss ... even if she doesn't know about the tradition.
Midshipmen will make offerings of pennies to Tecumseh, the bronze statue of the USS Delaware's figurehead that sits outside of Bancroft Hall, to bring them good luck on their final exams.
Film legend John Wayne was offered an appointment to the Naval Academy, but turned it down because he already had played a season of varsity football on scholarship at USC.
Washington College was founded in 1782, making it the 10th oldest college in the United States and the first to be founded after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
George Washington gave his approval for the school to use his name. Washington also contributed 50 gold guineas and accepted a seat on the college's board until he was voted in as the first president of the United States. Alumni:
"Terminator" star Linda Hamilton
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