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Boston College is a private research university located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, in the New England region of the United States.
Its historic campus, one of the earliest examples of Collegiate Gothic architecture in North America, is set on a hilltop six miles (10 km) west of downtown Boston.
Although chartered as a university by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1863, Boston College's name reflects its early history as a liberal arts college and preparatory school in Boston's South End. It was the first institution of higher education established in the city, though it later outgrew its urban location and moved to pastoral Chestnut Hill on the city's western edge. Boston College is one of the oldest and largest Jesuit universities in the United States and is home to one of the world's most prominent Catholic theological and philosophical faculties.
Founded in part as a response to discriminatory policies against immigrants and Catholics at Harvard University in the 19th century, Boston College acquired the nickname "Jesuit Ivy" in a 1956 commencement address by then-US Senator John F. Kennedy. Its charter was among the first documents to stipulate that the institution "from its inception shall be open to youths of any faith," a policy since expanded to include those "of no religious faith at all."
Boston College is called "The Heights", a reference to both its lofty aspirations — the college motto is "Ever to Excel" — and its elevated location on Chestnut Hill, or "University Heights" as the area was initially designated. The name has lent itself to a number of campus organizations — including the principal student newspaper, The Heights — and to those affiliated with the university: BC students were universally called "Heightsmen" until 1925 when Mary C. Mellyn became the first "Heightswoman" to receive a BC degree. Today, the university's legacy includes over 147,000 alumni in over 120 countries around the world.
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