(idiomatic) A sheltered, overly-academic existence or perspective, implying a disconnection or lack of awareness of reality or practical considerations.
Example: 2005 â€” Daniel Walker, Valedictory speech for Hamilton College
Hamilton College is an ivory tower with an open bar, and so I - who work and play equally hard - have come to love this place, and have been dead-set against leaving it.
2013 July 20, â€œThe attack of the MOOCsâ€, The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
Since the launch early last year of [â€¦] two Silicon Valley start-ups offering free education through MOOCs, massive open online courses, the ivory towers of academia have been shaken to their foundations. University brands built in some cases over centuries have been forced to contemplate the possibility that information technology will rapidly make their existing business model obsolete.
Such a proposal looks fine from an ivory tower, but it could never work in real life.â€Ž