Thursday, March 19, 2009

So Who is Robert Morris Anyways?

Given that most folks probably never heard of Robert Morris or the university that now bears his name before the Colonials were drawn as Michigan State's first round opponent, we thought it might be prudent to take a behind-the-scenes look at just who we're facing here.

Robert Morris University

Location: Moon Township, Pa. It's a small Pittsburgh suburb a stones throw from the airport.

Founded: 1921

Enrollment: Private school. About 5,100 total; 3,984 undergrads

Namesake: Robert Morris. He's the somewhat pudgy gentleman to the left. Born in 1734 to a working-class family, Morris grew to become a self-made mogul in the shipping business, and during the Revolutionary War the de-facto commander of a navy of privateering vessels - his own reconfigured trade ships.

Imagine you're a revolutionary big-wig, the war is raging but the colonies you're hoping to make free are hurting for cash. What's a rich guy with an independent (or independence) streak to do? Well, if you're Morris, you hound each of the soon-to-be states into paying their taxes while taking out a line of credit to basically finance the fight yourself.

He's also an interesting asterisk to the story of George Washington's presidency. The first family, needing a place to stay, borrowed Morris' house while he moved next door for eight years.

Academics: US News and World Report lists Robert Morris among their "Tier 3" colleges and universities in the northeast. The school isn't overly selective, admitting more than 75 percent of its applicants. The university's calling card is its business school, although it has diversified recently with a focus toward fields like nursing, actuarial sciences, engineering and information technology.

Tuition cost: Between $19-20,000 a year, on average.

Long Lost Sibling: Think of Robert Morris as something like a Ferris State, only private. Ferris has that one or two outstanding program(s), but is otherwise unremarkable. Kinda small, but not in a bad way. A bit suburban with an actual defined campus but not one that would blow you away.

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