Valparaiso University (Indiana) had used this nickname first.
However, in response to political power and especially to agitation for affirmative action, CUNY decided to implement open admissions, which caused a disastrous drop in quality. CUNY, which was formerly known as the "poor man's Harvard" (and secretly as the "poor Jewish man's Harvard), then became known for having lots of poor-quality students who simply weren't serious about their studies. In other words, the sterling reputation of CUNY was basically trashed.
Search online for "the poor man's Harvard." It may not be called that today, but it's still there. ;o)
It's currently undergoing some renovation, and it's got some new facilities and revamped programs... and the students there are generally very down to earth (though sometimes a bit too self-depracating if they come from a prestigious high school where all their friends went to Ivies lol But I know some people choose to come to City College instead of attending ivies or other prestigious universities where they had been accepted). have you visited it yet?
11 April 1921, Los Angeles (CA) Times, "Reds Invade University," pg. II5:
CHICAGO, April 10. -- Valparaiso University, known the country over as the "poor man's Harvard," is divided into two camps and awaiting a serious crisis.
26 April 1921, New York (NY) Times, pg. 1:
He charged that the administration was trying to make "the poor man's Harvard" a regular Harvard by payments to students who were prominent in athletics and trying to introduce a "lot of new ideas that do not jibe with the traditions of the university."
(Valparaiso University at Valparaiso, Indiana -- ed.)
9 November 1981, Washington (DC) Post, pg. A3:
Once "Poor Man's Harvard," CUNY Now Lab for Education Strategy
Washington Report on Middle East Affiars
April 1991, Page 27
The "Neocons": From the Cold War to the "Global Intifada"
By Leon T. Hadar
Among the major figures in the movement were former Trotskyites who studied in the '30s and '40s at the then "poor man's Harvard," the City College of New York, a center for socialist activism.
29 March 1992, New York (NY) Times, NJ section, pg. 3:
He holds a master's degree in psychology from City College -- "the poor man's Harvard," he called it.
Education (5:10pm EST Mon Nov 11 2002)
Colin Powell graduated from City College, City University of New York (CUNY) not a community college. In the 40's through to the early 80s CCNY was known as "the poor man's Harvard". (...) - by ccheema.
23 May 2003, New York (NY) Times, "At City College Reunion, Strivers Bridge a 50-Year Gap" by Karen W. Arenson, pg. B1:
Critics have said that City College -- once known as "the poor man's Harvard" -- is not what it used to be.
Washington (DC) Monthly
Open admissions at CCNY were a colossal failure. They turned what used to be called the poor man's Harvard into remedial ed. Thankfully those days arr over and the quality of the student body is way up - two CCNY students (both children of immigrants, just like the old days) were just awarded Rhodes scholarships!
Posted by: DBL on December 22, 2004 at 11:16 AM
Wired New York
March 5th, 2006, 07:14 PM
Actually, CCNY is "the poor man's Harvard"...
City College of New York
Posted on May 15, 2006
NY Post recognizes successful CS student:
In an article titled `Best & Brightest fuel CCNY revival', the NY Post chose graduating senior James H. Faghmous, president of our ACM student chapter, to illustrate the claim of City College as the "poor man's Harvard".
Could it be alright that will put thing about this in my small personal weblog if I post a reference to www.barrypopik.com ?