10 Fun Facts About Brown University

March 07, 2016

Located in Providence, Rhode Island, Brown University is the home of Bears. Well known for strong, Ivy League academics, Brown has many other fun facts that you may not know.

1. The Van Wickle Gates

The iconic Van Wickle Gates open only twice a year - inward for Convocation, when first year students are welcomed by the Brown community, and outward for Commencement, where graduating seniors pass through. According to superstition, any Brown student that goes through the gates more than these two times will be cursed with bad luck.

2. Josiah S. Carberry

Josiah S. Carberry is a legendary fictional professor of psychoceramics (the study of cracked pots) who was created as a joke in 1929. Every Friday the 13th, students celebrate Carberry Day in honor of his fictional academic accomplishments. Every Carberry Day, the campus is filled with small brown jugs that students and faculty fill with change. The money goes to a fund in memory of Carberry’s ‘future late wife Laura’.

3. No core requirements classes

The undergraduate curriculum changed drastically in 1970, and eventually became known as the Brown Curriculum. This new curriculum wiped out the core requirements shared by all Brown undergraduates and allowed students to craft their own course of study.

4. Accepts all Religious Affiliations

Brown was the first Ivy League school to accept students from all religious affiliations, a statement to the spirit of openness that still embodies Brown today.

5. Annmary Brown Memorial

While the Annmary Brown Library resembles a tomb since it has no windows, it is actually rumored to be the burial site of Rush and Annmary Brown Hawkins. You can actually see their graves through a gate at the library.

6. Hutchings-Votey Organ

Brown University is the home of the largest remaining Hutchings-Votey organ. Every year on Halloween, students from Brown and people from the surrounding community will gather around the organ to hear spooky music played. They gather again around Christmas for holiday concerts performed by different musical groups around campus.

7. Name Change

Brown University was originally named “The College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations”, but was renamed after Nicholas Brown donated $5,000 to the school in 1804 when tuition was only $5.

8. John Carter Brown library

The John Carter Brown library holds seven 15th century letters from Christopher Columbus proclaiming his “discovery” of the New World.

9. Oldest Ivy Engineering Program

Brown has the oldest undergraduate engineering program out of all of the Ivy League schools.

10. Stephen Hopkins

The first chancellor of the university was Stephen Hopkins, who was the chief justice and governor of Rhode Island, and was also one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence.

If you’re applying to Brown, make sure to check out the application files of recently accepted students, including essays and advice! Learn what it takes to get accepted and how you can improve your chances. You can also talk to current students by signing up for a mentor.

About The Author

AdmitSee Staff
AdmitSee Staff

​We remember our frustration with applying to college and the lack of information surrounding it. So we created AdmitSee to bring much-needed transparency to the application process! Read more about the team here.

Browse Successful Application Files

Brown ‘21

Accepted to Brown, Tulane, Wesleyan, Davidson, Northwestern, USC

"Biochemistry and film... wait what?" -everyone's reaction to me. Int'l actor, science geek, filmmaker and public speaker combining science and storytelling at Brown.
Brown ‘20

Accepted to Brown, UPenn, Wellesley, Kenyon, Macalester, Holyoke, Harvard, Bowdoin

Just another girl finally through the college apps rat race. I'm happy to share with you what I did to get through it! Currently I'm pre-law and possibly majoring in Public Policy.
Brown ‘21

Accepted to Brown, UC Berkeley, UNC, Rutgers

Excited to be at Brown in the fall and excited to help out the next generation of college applicants!
Brown ‘19

Accepted to Brown, Clark

I'm a freshman at Brown who is excited about college and wants high school students to be equally excited about the colleges they end up at.

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