Formality Is Taboo California Institute of Technology

People driving by the pleasant campus in Pasadena, Calif., barely notice the low-rise stucco buildings, the casually dressed students strolling across lawns or sitting on benches with their noses buried in books. It could, to all appearances, be any one of hundreds of small vocational colleges. In fact, that is how it began life in 1891, saddled with the uneuphonious name of Throop University.

The California Institute of Technology (as it was renamed in 1920) has come a long way since then. Other small universities have a Nobel laureate or two among their faculty and alumni; Caltech boasts 20, including Physicist...

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