university [vs. college -- Forum Mod.]

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university [vs. college -- Forum Mod.]

Post by Archived Topic » Sat Apr 03, 2004 4:05 am

I've looked up the Wordwizard and the answer is "universitas," which means entirety. I'm wondering if the word "university" is in any way related to "unity in diversity"?

Richard, Chicago
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Post by Archived Reply » Sat Apr 03, 2004 4:20 am

Main Entry:
Pronunciation: "yü-n&-'v&r-s&-tE, -'v&r-stE
From the below, I would say it would really be a stretch. Perhaps it could be defined nowadays as "unity in perversity." *G*

Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English universite, from Middle French universite, from Medieval Latin universitat-, universitas, from Latin universus
Date: 14th century
Inflected Form(s): plural -ties
1 : an institution of higher learning providing facilities for teaching and research and authorized to grant academic degrees; specifically : one made up of an undergraduate division which confers bachelor's degrees and a graduate division which comprises a graduate school and professional schools each of which may confer master's degrees and doctorates
2 : the physical plant of a university

From the Perseus Project on Latin:

universus , a, um (poet. contr., unvorsum, Lucr. 4, 262; plur. UNVORSEI, S. C. Bacch.), adj. [unus-verto, turned into one, combined into one whole] , all together, all taken collectively, whole, entire, collective, general, universal (opp. singuli).

Reply from Leif Thorvaldson (Eatonville - U.S.A.)
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Who first used [university]

Post by cshaw » Sat Mar 03, 2007 5:29 pm

Can anyone please tell me who was the first person to use [university]? The OED says c.1300 St. Edmund in S. ENG. Can anyone expand on this?

Thank you.

C. Shaw

Who first used [university]

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Mar 03, 2007 9:47 pm

Si C, Here is a book on the guy and a blurb:

St Edmund of Abingdon A Study in Hagiography and History by Lawrence, Oxford University Press Reprints, 1960, 350 pages:

“St Edmund was the last Archbishop of Canterbury and the first Oxford master to have been officially canonized. He is also the first member of the nascent university about whom anything considerable is known and an important figure in late 12th century political history. This study of the literary sources for Edmund's life presents a scrutiny of the primary texts - the Quadrilogus (from the canonization process), the Lives by Eustace of Faversham and Matthew Paris, the letters of postulation - and their relation to each other and to other Lives texts in Latin.”

Note: The Oxford English Dictionary is not necessarily saying that St. Edmund (~1175-1240) was the first person to use the word. What it is saying is that the word first appeared in print in the circa 1300 book The South England Legendary, which is a book on the lives of the saints. It appeared in the section on the life of St. Edmund.

Ken G – March 3, 2007

Who first used [university]

Post by daverba » Thu Mar 08, 2007 12:06 am

On this topic, I had read a small book on the history of education. The book is now stored away somewhere, and I feel disinclined to dig for it at the moment. I remember this book explaining that a "college" and a "university" originally differed in that former referred to the educational institution and the later referred to the body of students, respectively. (I'm pretty sure of this, but the definitions may be reversed.)
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Who first used [university]

Post by gdwdwrkr » Thu Mar 08, 2007 12:31 am

Considering the term "electoral college", I'm thinking the definitions are reversed. "University" sounds very buildingy.

Who first used [university]

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Mar 08, 2007 1:01 am

Jim, I can't help feeling that 'buildingy' sounds like an edificial invention.
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Who first used [university]

Post by gdwdwrkr » Thu Mar 08, 2007 2:41 am

Universe City.

Re: Who first used [university]

Post by Daverbal » Wed Jun 24, 2009 3:10 am

I found the book in question, The Rise of Universities, by Charles Homer Haskins, Cornell University Press (1923), and below the information alluded to above.

You can also find here:
Universities, like cathedrals and parliaments, are a product of the Middle Ages. The Greeks and the Romans, strange as it may seem, had no universities in the sense in which the word has been used for the past seven or eight centuries.

[Higher education for the ancients] was not organized into the form of permanent institutions of learning. … Socrates gave no diplomas; if a modern student sat at his feet for three months, he would demand a certificate, something tangible and external to show for it …

The mediaeval university was, in the fine old phrase of Pasquier, “built of men” — bâtie en hommes. Such a university had no board of trustees and published no catalogue; it had no student societies — except so far as the university itself was fundamentally a society of students …

[By the 1100’s, a] student class had now appeared, … and by 1158 it was sufficiently important in Italy to receive a formal grant of rights and privileges from Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, though no particular town or university is mentioned. By this time, Bologna had become the resort of some hundreds of students … Far from home and undefended, they united for mutual protection and assistance, and … was the beginning of the university. In this union they seem to have followed the example of the gilds already common in Italian cities. … the word university means originally such a group or corporation in general, and only in time did it come to be limited to gilds of masters and students, universitas societas magistrorum discipulorumque. Historically, the word university has no connection with the universe or the universality or learning, it denotes only the totality of a group, whether barbers, carpenters, or students did not matter.

The students of Bologna organized such a university first as a means of protection against the townspeople, for the price of rooms and necessaries rose rapidly with the crowd of new tenants and consumers, and the individual student was helpless against such profiteering. United, the students could bring the town to terms by the threat of departure as a body, secession, for the university, having no buildings, was free to move, and there are many historic examples of such migrations. Better rent one’s rooms for less than not rent them at all, and so the student organizations secured the power to fix the prices of lodgings and books through their representatives.

Victorious over the townsmen, the students turned on “their other enemies, the professors.” Here the threat was a collective boycott, and as the masters lived at first wholly from the fees of their pupils, this threat was equally effective. The professor was put under the bond to live up to a minute set of regulations which guaranteed his students the worth of the money paid by each.

We read in the earliest statutes (1317) that a professor might not be absent without leave, even a single day, and if he desired to leave town he had to make a deposit to ensure his return. If he failed to secure an audience of five for a regular lecture, he was fined as though absent — a poor lecture indeed which could not secure five hearers! He must begin with the bell and quit within one minute after the next bell. He was not allowed to skip a chapter in his commentary, or postpone a difficulty to the end of the hour, and he was obliged to cover ground systematically, so much in each specific term of the year. No one might spend the whole year on introduction and bibliography! …

Excluded from the “university” of students, the professors also formed a gild or “college,” requiring for admission thereto certain qualifications which were ascertained by examination, so that no student could enter save by the gild’s consent. And, inasmuch as ability to teach a subject is a good test of knowing it, the student came to seek the professor’s license as a certificate of attainment, regardless of his future career. This certificate, the license to teach (licentia docendi), thus became the earliest form of academic degree. Our higher degrees still preserve this tradition in the words master (magister) and doctor, originally synonymous, while the French even have a licence. … And the ambitious student sought the degree and gave an inaugural lecture, even when he expressly disclaimed all intention of continuing in the teaching profession. …

Re: Who first used [university]

Post by Wizard of Oz » Sun Jun 28, 2009 7:39 am

.. in Aus we make a distinction between colleges and universities .. colleges offer a lower level of academic attainment which is generally referred to as a Certificate of xyz whereas the university offers the Bachelor of xyz .. entry to colleges is at a lower standard than a university .. however at our universities there are colleges but these refer to the boarding colleges where students live during term time ..

WoZ of Wilton College
Last edited by Wizard of Oz on Thu Jul 02, 2009 11:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Re: Who first used [university]

Post by hsargent » Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:13 pm

Wikipedia says that College and University in the US is typically interchangeable. In Europe the College is lesser in academic credentials than a University.

I always thought a University is a collection of individuals Colleges; Engineering, Agriculture, Fine Arts, etc. My University changed its name of 40 years from College to University because of the perceived prestige.

Merriam-Webster online:

often attributive
Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin collegium society, from collega colleague — more at colleague
14th century

1: a body of clergy living together and supported by a foundation
2: a building used for an educational or religious purpose
3 a: a self-governing constituent body of a university offering living quarters and sometimes instruction but not granting degrees <Balliol and Magdalen Colleges at Oxford> —called also residential college b: a preparatory or high school c: an independent institution of higher learning offering a course of general studies leading to a bachelor's degree ; also : a university division offering this d: a part of a university offering a specialized group of courses e: an institution offering instruction usually in a professional, vocational, or technical field <business college>
4: company, group ; specifically : an organized body of persons engaged in a common pursuit or having common interests or duties
5 a: a group of persons considered by law to be a unit b: a body of electors — compare electoral college
6: the faculty, students, or administration of a college

This covers everyone's comments. Seems the real root meaning is based on Colleagues associated in a common purpose.
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Re: Who first used [university]

Post by PhilHunt » Wed Jul 01, 2009 5:26 pm

The institutions, which we know of as universities today, were first started by the Franciscan and Dominican monks of the Middle Ages. Though these orders originally started out as poor orders, denouncing worldly goods, they evolved into huge organizations with wealth and influence. The Vatican very cleverly saw the opportunity to acquire more wealth at this time by offering to 'accept' all property and belongings of the Franciscans, so that they could continue to live the poor life in accordance with Saint Francis' teachings, but after St. Francis' death many of his teachings were disregarded; but that's another interesting but irrelevant story.
Many British institutions were started by Dominicans and Franciscans; I think Oxford and Cambridge were both founded by Dominicans. As well as being founders of centres of learning, the Dominicans and Franciscans were advisers to the kings of Europe, having immense influence. Both these orders ended in the UK with the dissolution of the monasteries, and the universities were taken by the crown.

I imagine that the word 'university', in its sense as a centre of learning, was first used to describe the collection of colleges started by the various orders; in fact, it is a shortening of universitas magistrorum et scholarium "community of masters and scholars", and this superseded 'studium'. You can still see Studium used for the Blackfriar Studium, which is a centre for theology studies in Oxford University.
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Re: Who first used [university]

Post by Shelley » Wed Jul 01, 2009 9:30 pm

hsargent wrote:Wikipedia says that College and University in the US is typically interchangeable.
I think Wikipedia would be wrong, in that case.

Re: university

Post by russcable » Thu Jul 02, 2009 8:41 am

Wikipedia actually says
In the United States, for example, the terms 'college' and 'university' may be regarded as loosely interchangeable, whereas in the United Kingdom and Ireland, a 'college' is usually an institution between school and university level (although constituent schools within universities are also known as 'colleges').
which is loosely true.

Colleges and universities here all start at the same level and we use "college" as the generic term whether the institution in question names itself college, university, institute, etc. We say "I'm going to college", "I'm in college" where a UKan might say "I'm going to university", "I'm at university".

I went to college at a university. My college (not American standard) was made up of residential/social colleges. The academic subdivisions were "schools" (School of Music, School of Business).

Re: university

Post by Wizard of Oz » Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:16 pm

harry said:

I always thought a University is a collection of individuals Colleges; Engineering, Agriculture, Fine Arts, etc.
.. in Aus a University is a collection of Faculties which is then a collection of Schools .. for example at my University ..
Faculty of Science and Information Technology comprises,
* School of Design, Communication and IT
* School of Environmental and Life Sciences
* School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
* School of Psychology
.. In Aus we also have that level of education where some Private Schools, mostly Christian schools, call themself a College and cater for students from kindergarten to Year 12 ..

Never-went-to-college WoZ
Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

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