Originally Posted by ComboOrgan
This is certianly hyperbole, but it may not be as outrageous as you think.
In the world of physics, if one intends to be a physicist at a large research university, then one needs to get his PhD from a Top 30 school. There are exceptions, but generally the faculty at even the least prestigious research universities are made up of Ivy Leaguers and and graduates of other top physics schools.
A Physics PhD from UVA will certainly be fighting an uphill battle if he intends to work in academia.
I'm not sure how true this is for other fields, but my point is this: in many fields, his statement is not entirely laughable.
I believe that in the sciences, 75-80% of faculty nationwide have PhD degrees from what are perceived as the top 20 institutions in their respective fields. Having said that, anyone aiming for a position at a research university should choose a PhD dissertation advisor, not a university, because your name will be associated more closely with your advisor than the school. For example, if you go to an Ivy, but choose an advisor who is marginally research active, good luck getting a faculty position. Conversely, if the leader in your chosen field works at a state school, you'd be silly not to line up a position with him/her and then enroll at the state school.
For undergraduate degrees, I think the statement is just silly. There are many, many fine schools that aren't members of the "extended Ivies" (i.e. the Ivies plus Stanford, Northwestern, etc.).