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Harvard University (incorporated as The President and Fellows of Harvard College) is a private university located in Cambridgemarker, Massachusettsmarker and a member of the Ivy League. Founded in 1636 by the colonial Massachusetts legislature, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United Statesmarker and currently comprises ten separate academic units. It is also the first and oldest corporation in the United States.

Initially called "New College" or "the college at New Towne", the institution was renamed Harvard Collegemarker on March 13, 1639. It was named after John Harvard, a young clergyman from the London Borough of Southwarkmarker and alumnus of Cambridge University (after which Cambridge, Massachusetts is named), who bequeathed the College his library of four hundred books and £779 (which was half of his estate), assuring its continued operation. The earliest known official reference to Harvard as a "university" occurs in the new Massachusetts Constitution of 1780.

During his 40-year tenure as Harvard president (1869–1909), Charles William Eliot radically transformed Harvard into the pattern of the modern research university. Eliot's reforms included elective courses, small classes, and entrance examinations. The Harvard model influenced American education nationally, at both college and secondary levels.

Harvard has the second-largest financial endowment of any non-profit organization (behind the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), standing at $26 billion as of September 2009.


In 1893, Baedeker's guidebook called Harvard "the oldest, richest, and most famous of American seats of learning." Harvard College was established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, making it the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The college was named for its first benefactor, British-born John Harvard of Charlestownmarker, a young minister who, upon his death in 1638, left his library and half his estate to the new institution. The charter creating the corporation of Harvard College was signed by Massachusetts Governor Thomas Dudley in 1650. In the early years, the College trained many Puritan ministers.

During its early years, the College offered a classic academic course based on the English university model but consistent with the prevailing Puritan philosophy of the first colonists in New England. The College was never affiliated with any particular denomination, but many of its earliest graduates went on to become clergymen in Puritan churches throughout New England. An early brochure, published in 1643, justified the College's existence: "To advance Learning and perpetuate it to Posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate Ministery [sic] to the Churches…" Harvard's early motto was Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae "Truth for Christ and the Church." In a directive to its students, it laid out the purpose of all education: "Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Iesus Christ which is eternall life, Joh. 17. 3. and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning.

On June 11, 1685, Increase Mather became the Acting President of Harvard College. On July 23, 1686 he was appointed the Rector, and on June 27, 1682 he became the President of Harvard, a position which he held until September 6, 1701.
The 1708 election of John Leverett, the first president who was not also a clergyman, marked a turning of the College toward intellectual independence from Puritanism.

In the 17th century, Harvard established the Indian College to educate Native Americans, but it was not a success and disappeared by 1693.
Between 1830 and 1870 Harvard became "privatized". While the Federalists controlled state government, Harvard had prospered, but the 1824 defeat of the federalist party in Massachusetts allowed the renascent Democratic-Republicans to block state funding of private universities. By 1870, the politicians and ministers that heretofore had made up the university's board of overseers had been replaced by Harvard alumni drawn from Boston's upper-class business and professional community and funded by private endowment.

During this period, Harvard experienced unparalleled growth that securely placed it financially in a league of its own among American colleges. Ronald Story notes that in 1850, Harvard's total assets were "five times that of Amherst and Williams combined, and three times that of Yale." Story also notes that "all the evidence… points to the four decades from 1815 to 1855 as the era when parents, in Henry Adams's words, began 'sending their children to Harvard College for the sake of its social advantages'". Under President Eliot's tenure, Harvard earned a reputation for being more liberal and democratic than either Princeton or Yale in regard to bigotry against Jews and other ethnic minorities. In 1870, one year into Eliot's term, Richard Theodore Greener became the first African-American to graduate from Harvard College. Seven years later, Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish justice on the Supreme Courtmarker, graduated from Harvard Law School.
Nevertheless, Harvard became the bastion of a distinctly Protestant elite — the so-called Boston Brahmin class — and continued to be so well into the 20th century.

Though Harvard ended required chapel in the mid-1880s, the school remained culturally Protestant, and fears of dilution grew as enrollment of immigrants, Catholics and Jews surged at the turn of the twentieth century. By 1908, Catholics made up nine percent of the freshman class, and between 1906 and 1922, Jewish enrollment at Harvard increased from six to twenty percent. In June 1922, under President A. Lawrence Lowell, Harvard announced a Jewish quota. Other universities had done this surreptitiously. Lowell did it in a forthright way, and positioned it as means of combating anti-Semitism, writing that "anti-Semitic feeling among the students is increasing, and it grows in proportion to the increase in the number of Jews… when… the number of Jews was small, the race antagonism was small also." The social milieu of 1940s Harvard is presented in Myron Kaufman's 1957 novel, Remember Me to God, which follows the life of a Jewish undergraduate as he attempts to navigate the shoals of casual anti-Semitism, be recognized as a "gentleman," and be accepted into "The Pudding." Indeed, Harvard's discriminatory policies, both tacit and explicit, were partly responsible for the founding of Boston Collegemarker in 1863 and Brandeis Universitymarker in nearby Waltham in 1948.

Policies of exclusion were not limited to religious minorities. In 1920, "Harvard University maliciously persecuted and harassed" those it believed to be gay via a "Secret Court" led by President Lowell. Summoned at the behest of a wealthy alumnus, the inquisitions and expulsions carried out by this tribunal, in conjunction with the "vindictive tenacity of the university in ensuring that the stigmatization of the expelled students would persist throughout their productive lives" led to two suicides. Harvard President Lawrence Summers characterized the 1920 episode as "part of a past that we have rightly left behind", and "abhorrent and an affront to the values of our university". Yet as late as the 1950s, Wilbur Bender, then the dean of admissions for Harvard College, was seeking better ways to "detect homosexual tendencies and serious psychiatric problems” in prospective students.

During the twentieth century, Harvard's international reputation grew as a burgeoning endowment and prominent professors expanded the university's scope. Explosive growth in the student population continued with the addition of new graduate schools and the expansion of the undergraduate program. Radcliffe College, established in 1879 as sister school of Harvard College, became one of the most prominent schools for women in the United States.

In the decades immediately after the Second World War, Harvard reformed its admissions policies as it sought students from a more diverse applicant pool. Whereas Harvard undergraduates had almost exclusively been upper-class alumni of select New England "feeder schools" such as Exetermarker, Hotchkiss and Andovermarker, increasing numbers of international, minority, and working-class students had, by the late 1960s, altered the ethnic and socio-economic makeup of the college. Nonetheless, Harvard's undergraduate population remained predominantly male, with about four men attending Harvard College for every woman studying at Radcliffe. Following the merger of Harvard and Radcliffe admissions in 1977, the proportion of female undergraduates steadily increased, mirroring a trend throughout higher education in the United States. Harvard's graduate schools, which had accepted females and other groups in greater numbers even before the college, also became more diverse in the post-war period.In 1999, Radcliffe College, founded in 1879 as the "Harvard Annex for Women", merged formally with Harvard University, becoming the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studymarker.

Harvard and its affiliates, like most American universities, are considered to be politically liberal (left of center); Richard Nixon, for example, famously referred to it as the "Kremlinmarker on the Charles" around 1970. Republicans remain a small minority of faculty, and the University has refused to officially recognize the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program — forcing students to commission through nearby MIT.

President Lawrence Summers resigned his presidency in 2006. His resignation came just one week before a second planned vote of no confidence by the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Former president Derek Bok served as interim president. Members of Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which instructs graduate students in GSAS and undergraduates in Harvard College, had passed an earlier motion of "lack of confidence" in Summers' leadership on March 15, 2005 by a 218-185 vote, with 18 abstentions. The 2005 motion was precipitated by comments about the causes of gender demographics in academia made at a closed academic conference and leaked to the press. In response, Summers convened two committees to study this issue: the Task Force on Women Faculty and the Task Force on Women in Science and Engineering. Summers had also pledged $50 million to support their recommendations and other proposed reforms. Drew Gilpin Faust is the 28th president of Harvard. An American historian, former dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studymarker, and Lincoln Professor of History at Harvard University, Faust is the first female president in the university's history.

Administration and organization

Harvard University campus (circa 1938)

A faculty of about 2,110 professors, lecturers, and instructors serve as of school year 2008-09, with 6,715 undergraduate and 12,424 graduate students. The school color is crimson, which is also the name of the Harvard sports teams and the daily newspaper, The Harvard Crimson. The color was unofficially adopted (in preference to magenta) by an 1875 vote of the student body, although the association with some form of red can be traced back to 1858, when Charles William Eliot, a young graduate student who would later become Harvard's 21st and longest-serving president (1869-1909), bought red bandanas for his crew so they could more easily be distinguished by spectators at a regatta.

The history of Harvard's color has been contested by Fordham Universitymarker. Both schools were identifying with magenta, and since neither was willing to use a new color, they agreed that the winner of a baseball game would be allowed official use of magenta. Fordham emerged the winner, but Harvard reneged on its promise and continued using magenta. Fordham, which adopted maroon because of this, claims that Harvard followed suit with its adoption of crimson.

Harvard has a friendly rivalry with the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker which dates back to 1900, when a merger of the two schools was frequently discussed and at one point officially agreed upon (ultimately canceled by Massachusetts courts). Today, the two schools cooperate as much as they compete, with many joint conferences and programs, including the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, the Broad Institute, the Harvard-MIT Data Center and the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology. In addition, students at the two schools can cross-register in undergraduate or graduate classes without any additional fees, for credits toward their own school's degrees.


Governing bodies

Harvard is governed by two boards, one of which is the President and Fellows of Harvard College, also known as the Harvard Corporation and founded in 1650, and the other is the Harvard Board of Overseers. The President of Harvard University is the day-to-day administrator of Harvard and is appointed by and responsible to the Harvard Corporation. There are 16,000 staff and faculty.

Faculties and schools

Harvard today has nine faculties, listed below in order of foundation:

In 1999, the former Radcliffe College was reorganized as the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studymarker.

In February 2007, the Harvard Corporation and Overseers formally approved the Harvard Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences to become the 14th School of Harvard (Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences). "Dean's Letter on Growth and Renewal of the faculty,", April 2007


In 2005 Harvard received a large donation from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal for the development of research programs in Islamic studies. The acceptance by Harvard and other universities of this and comparable donations has drawn criticism from some commentators and accusations that the donations are used to spread pro-Saudi propaganda.

In December 2008, Harvard announced that its endowment had lost 22% (approximately $8 billion) in the period July to October 2008, which would necessitate budget cuts. Later reports suggest the loss was actually more than double that figure, (Forbes in March 2009 suggesting the loss might be in the range of $12 Billion) suggesting Harvard had lost nearly 50% of its endowment in the first four months alone. One of the most visible results of Harvard's trying to rebalance its budget is by halting the construction of the $1.2 Billion Allston Science Complex that was scheduled to be complete by 2011, which has resulted in protests from local residents.


Map showing the architects and dates of construction for the buildings of the main campus near Harvard square, as of 2005.
Information on other notable nearby buildings is also included.
The main campus is centered on Harvard Yardmarker in central Cambridge and extends into the surrounding Harvard Squaremarker neighborhood. The Harvard Business School and many of the university's athletics facilities, including Harvard Stadiummarker, are located in the city of Boston's Allstonmarker neighborhood, which is situated on the other side of the Charles River from Harvard Square. The Harvard Medical Schoolmarker, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and the Harvard School of Public Health are located in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area of Bostonmarker.

Harvard Yardmarker itself contains the central administrative offices and main libraries of the university, academic buildings including Sever Hallmarker and University Hallmarker, Memorial Church, and the majority of the freshman dormitories. Sophomore, junior, and senior undergraduates live in twelve residential Houses, nine of which are south of Harvard Yard along or near the Charles River. The other three are located in a residential neighborhood half a mile northwest of the Yard at the Quadranglemarker (commonly referred to as the Quad), which formerly housed Radcliffe College students until Radcliffe merged its residential system with Harvard.

Each residential house contains rooms for undergraduates, House masters, and resident tutors, as well as a dining hall, library, and various other student facilities. The facilities were made possible by a gift from Yale Universitymarker alumnus Edward Harkness.

Radcliffe Yard, formerly the center of the campus of Radcliffe College (and now home of the Radcliffe Institute), is adjacent to the Graduate School of Educationmarker and the Cambridge Commonmarker.
Memorial Church

Satellite facilities

Apart from its major Cambridge/Allston and Longwood campuses, Harvard owns and operatesArnold Arboretummarker, in the Jamaica Plainmarker area of Boston;the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collectionmarker, in Washington, D.C.marker; the Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusettsmarker; and the Villa I Tatti research center ([688879]) in Florencemarker, Italy.

Major campus expansion

Throughout the past several years, Harvard has purchased large tracts of land in Allstonmarker, a walk across the Charles River from Cambridge, with the intent of major expansion southward. The university now owns approximately fifty percent more land in Allston than in Cambridge. Various proposals to connect the traditional Cambridge campus with the new Allston campus include new and enlarged bridges, a shuttle service and/or a tram. Ambitious plans also call for sinking part of Storrow Drive (at Harvard's expense) for replacement with park land and pedestrian access to the Charles River, as well as the construction of bike paths, and an intently planned fabric of buildings throughout the Allston campus. The institution asserts that such expansion will benefit not only the school, but surrounding community, pointing to such features as the enhanced transit infrastructure, possible shuttles open to the public, and park space which will also be publicly accessible.

One of the foremost driving forces for Harvard's pending expansion is its goal of substantially increasing the scope and strength of its science and technology programs. The university plans to construct two 500,000 square foot (50,000 m²) research complexes in Allston, which would be home to several interdisciplinary programs, including the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and an enlarged Engineering department.

In addition, Harvard intends to relocate the Harvard Graduate School of Educationmarker and the Harvard School of Public Health to Allston. The university also plans to construct several new undergraduate and graduate student housing centers in Allston, and it is considering large-scale museums and performing arts complexes as well. Unfortunately the large drop in endowment has halted these plans for now.


In 2000, Harvard hired a full-time campus sustainability professional and launched the Harvard Green Campus Initiative, since institutionalized as the Office for Sustainability (OFS).With a full-time staff of 25, dozens of student interns, and a $12 million Loan Fund for energy and water conservation projects, HGCI is one of the most advanced campus sustainability programs in the country. Harvard was one of 26 schools to receive a grade of “A-” from the Sustainable Endowments Institute on its College Sustainability Report Card 2010, the highest grade awarded.


Harvard, along with other universities, has been accused of grade inflation. A review of the SAT scores of entering students at Harvard over the past two decades shows that the rise in GPAs has been matched by a linear rise in both verbal and math SAT scores of entering students (even after correcting for the reforming of the test in the mid-1990s), suggesting that the quality of the student body and its motivation have also increased. Harvard reduced the number of students who receive Latin honors from 90% in 2004 to 60% in 2005. Moreover, the prestigious honors of "John Harvard Scholar" and "Harvard College Scholar" will now be given only to the top 5 percent and the next 5 percent of each class.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, The New York Times, and some students have criticized Harvard for its reliance on teaching fellows for some aspects of undergraduate education; they consider this to adversely affect the quality of education. The New York Times article also detailed that the problem was prevalent in some other Ivy League schools.

The 2009 U.S. News & World Report rankings place Harvard in a first place tie with Princeton among "National Universities".. As of 2009, Harvard has been ranked first among world universities every time since the publications of the THES - QS World University Rankings and the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Faculty and research

Prominent conservative and prominent liberal voices are among the faculty of the various schools, such as Martin Feldstein, Harvey Mansfield, Greg Mankiw, Baroness Shirley Williams, and Alan Dershowitz. Leftists like Michael Walzer and Stephen Thernstrom and libertarians such as Robert Nozick have in the past graced its faculty.

Between 1964 and 2009, a total of 38 faculty and staff members affiliated with Harvard or its teaching hospitals were awarded Nobel Prizes (17 during the last quarter century).

Research institutes and centers

Research institutes
Research centers attached to schools and departments
  • Graduate School of Design: Center for Alternative Futures, Joint Center for Housing Studies, Center for Technology & the Environment
  • Harvard Law School: Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, European Law Research Center, John M. Olin Center of Law, Economics and Business
  • Department of Psychology: Prosopagnosia Research Centers at Harvard University and University College London
Independent organizations affiliated to the university


Harvard College accepted 7% of applicants for the class of 2013, a record low for the school's entire history. The number of acceptances was lower for the class of 2013 partially because the university anticipated increased rates of enrollment after announcing a large increase in financial aid in 2008. For the class of 2011, Harvard accepted fewer than 9% of applicants, with a yield of 80%. US News and World Report's "America's Best Colleges 2009" ranked Harvard #2 in selectivity (in a tie with Yalemarker, Princetonmarker and MITmarker, behind Caltechmarker), and first in rank of the best national universities.

US News and World Report listed 2006 admissions percentages of 14.3% for the school of business, 4.5% for public health, 12.5% for engineering, 11.3% for law, 14.6% for education, and 4.9% for medicine. In September 2006, Harvard College announced that it would eliminate its early admissions program as of 2007, which university officials argued would lower the disadvantage that low-income and under-represented minority applicants are faced within the competition to get into selective universities.

The undergraduate admissions office's preference for children of alumni policies have been the subject of scrutiny and debate. Under new financial aid guidelines, parents in families with incomes of less than $60,000 will no longer be expected to contribute any money to the cost of attending Harvard for their children, including room and board. Families with incomes in the $60,000 to $80,000 range contribute an amount of only a few thousand dollars a year. In December 2007, Harvard announced that families earning between $120,000 and $180,000 will only have to pay up to 10% of their annual household income towards tuition.

Thanks in part to the 2000 publication of Harvard Girl, a Chinese book by the parents of a student who was accepted to Harvard, the school has become a household name in mainland China, and the number of applications from East Asia has grown tenfold in the past decade. The value that middle-class Chinese parents place on getting one's children into top American schools has been described as a "national obsession".

Library system and museums

The Harvard University Library System is centered in Widener Librarymarker in Harvard Yardmarker and comprises over 80 individual libraries and over 15 million volumes. According to the American Library Association, this makes it the largest academic library in the United Statesmarker, and the second largest library in the country (after the Library of Congressmarker). Harvard describes its library as the "largest academic library in the world".

Cabot Science Library, Lamont Library, and Widener Library are three of the most most most popular libraries for undergraduates to use, with easy access and central locations. There are rare books, manuscripts and other special collections throughout Harvard's libraries; Houghton Library, the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, and the Harvard University Archives consist principally of rare and unique materials. America's oldest collection of maps, gazetteers, and atlases both old and new is stored in Pusey Library and open to the public. The largest collection of East-Asian language material outside of East Asia is held in the Harvard-Yenching Library.

Harvard operates several arts, cultural, and scientific museums:

Student activities

In 2005, The Boston Globe reported obtaining a 21-page Harvard internal memorandum that expressed concern about undergraduate student satisfaction based on a 2002 Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE) survey of 31 top universities. The Globe presented COFHE survey results and quotes from Harvard students that suggest problems with faculty availability, quality of instruction, quality of advising, social life on campus, and sense of community dating back to at least 1994. The magazine section of the Harvard Crimson echoed similar academic and social criticisms. The Harvard Crimson quoted Harvard College Dean Benedict Gross as being aware of and committed to improving the issues raised by the COFHE survey.

A longer list of Harvard student groups can be found under Harvard Collegemarker.
  • The Harvard Advocate (founded 1866) is the nation's oldest college literary magazine. Past members include Theodore Roosevelt, T. S. Eliot, and Mary Jo Salter.
  • The Harvard Salient [688880] is the campus's biweekly conservative magazine, whose past editors include many prominent conservative thinkers and journalists.
  • The Harvard Glee Club (founded 1858) is the oldest college choir in the country; the Harvard University Choir is the oldest university-affiliated choir in the country; and the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra (founded 1808), technically older than the New York Philharmonic, though it has only been a symphony orchestra for about half of its existence. The Bach Society Orchestra of Harvard University is a chamber orchestra that is staffed, managed, and conducted entirely by students.
  • The Hasty Pudding Theatricals (founded 1844) is a theatrical society known for its burlesque musicals and annual "Man of the Year" and "Woman of the Year" ceremonies; past members include Alan Jay Lerner, Jack Lemmon, and John Lithgow.
  • WHRB (95.3 FM Cambridge), the campus radio station, is run exclusively by Harvard students out of the basement of Pennypacker Hall, a freshman dorm. Known throughout the Bostonmarker metropolitan area for its classical, jazz, underground rock and hip-hop, and blues programming, especially its reading period "orgies", when the entire oeuvre of a particular composer, orchestra, band, or artist is played without commercial break, sometimes for several days in succession, to give the station's DJs a chance to catch up on their studies before the semester's final exams.
  • The Harvard Institute of Politics is a living memorial to President Kennedy that promotes public service among undergraduates by sponsoring non-credit courses and workshops and internships in the public sector.
  • The Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) is a 501 non-profit organization serves as the umbrella organization for dozens of community service and social change programs at Harvard. PBHA has 1600 volunteers who serve over 10,000 people in the greater Boston area. Notable alumni include Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Roger Nash Baldwin, Robert Coles, and David Souter.
  • Harvard Student Agencies is the largest student-run corporation in the world, with revenues of $6 million in 2006. Notable alumni include Thomas Stemberg, founder of Staples, Inc. and Michael Cohrs, a Board Member at Deutsche Bank in London.
  • Harvard Model Congress is the nation's oldest and largest congressional simulation conference, providing thousands of high school students from across the U.S. and abroad with the opportunity to experience participatory American democracy first-hand.
  • The Harvard Ichthus is the college's first journal of Christian thought, inspiring the founding of over 20 such journals throughout the Northeast through the Augustine Project. It has featured contributions by students as well as notable theologians such as Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Stanley Hauerwas, Glen Stassen, and Fr. Richard Schall.
  • The Harvard Chess Club is one of the oldest collegiate chess clubs in the country, founded in 1874. An annual match versus Yalemarker on the morning of the Harvard-Yale football has taken place since 1906. Harvard has won several intercollegiate national chess championships, with alumni including International Grandmaster and two-time United States Champion Patrick Wolff.
  • Harvard/MIT Cooperative Society is a cooperative bookstore that includes undergraduates on its board of directors.
  • The Harvard Wireless Club is the nation's oldest amateur radio club founded in 1909. Their radio station call sign is W1AF. "Professor George W. Pierce was the first president, and Nikola Tesla, Thomas A. Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, Greenleaf W. Pickard and R. A. Fessenden were honorary members."


Harvard has produced many famous alumni. Among the best-known are American political leaders John Hancock, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama; Canadian politicians Pierre Trudeau and Michael Ignatieff; Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, American Philanthropist Huntington Hartford, Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, Mexican President Felipe Calderón; current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; philosopher Henry David Thoreau and authors Ralph Waldo Emerson and William S. Burroughs; educator Harlan Hanson; poets Wallace Stevens, T. S. Eliot and E. E. Cummings; composer Leonard Bernstein; cellist Yo Yo Ma; comedian and television show host and writer Conan O'Brien, actors Jack Lemmon, Natalie Portman, Matt Damon, Mira Sorvino, Elisabeth Shue, Rashida Jones and Tommy Lee Jones, film directors Darren Aronofsky, Nelson Antonio Denis, Mira Nair and Terrence Malick, architect Philip Johnson, Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello, Weezer singer Rivers Cuomo, musician/producer/composer Ryan Leslie, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, programmer and activist Richard Stallman and civil rights leader W. E. B. Du Bois. Among its most famous current faculty members are biologist E. O. Wilson, cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, physicists Lisa Randall and Roy Glauber, Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt, writer Louis Menand, critic Helen Vendler, musician Bonnie Raitt, historian Niall Ferguson, economists Amartya Sen, N. Gregory Mankiw, Robert Barro, Stephen A. Marglin, Don M. Wilson III and Martin Feldstein, political philosophers Harvey Mansfield and Michael Sandel, political scientists Robert Putnam, Joseph Nye, Stanley Hoffman and the late Richard E. Neustadt, scholar/composers Robert Levin and Bernard Rands

Seventy-five Nobel Prize winners are affiliated with the university. Since 1974, 19 Nobel Prize winners and 15 winners of the American literary award, the Pulitzer Prize, have served on the Harvard faculty.


Harvard has several athletic facilities, such as the Lavietes Pavilion, a multi-purpose arena and home to the Harvard basketball teams. The Malkin Athletic Center, known as the "MAC," serves both as the university's primary recreation facility and as a satellite location for several varsity sports. The five story building includes two cardio rooms, an Olympic-size swimming pool, a smaller pool for aquaerobics and other activities, a mezzanine, where all types of classes are held at all hours of the day, and an indoor cycling studio, three weight rooms, and a three-court gym floor to play basketball. The MAC also offers personal trainers and specialty classes. The MAC is also home to Harvard volleyball, fencing, and wrestling. The offices of several of the school's varsity coaches are also in the MAC.

Weld Boathouse and Newell Boathouse house the women's and men's rowing teams, respectively. The men's crew also uses the Red Top complex in Ledyard, CT, as their training camp for the annual Harvard-Yale Regatta. The Bright Hockey Center hosts the Harvard hockey teams, and the Murr Center serves both as a home for Harvard's squash and tennis teams as well as a strength and conditioning center for all athletic sports.

As of 2006, there were 41 Division I intercollegiate varsity sports teams for women and men at Harvard, more than at any other NCAA Division I college in the country. As with other Ivy League universities, Harvard does not offer athletic scholarships.

Harvard's athletic rivalry with Yalemarker is intense in every sport in which they meet, coming to a climax each fall in their annual football meeting, which dates back to 1875 and is usually called simply The Game. While Harvard's football team is no longer one of the country's best as it often was a century ago during football's early days (it won the Rose Bowlmarker in 1920), both it and Yale have influenced the way the game is played. In 1903, Harvard Stadiummarker introduced a new era into football with the first-ever permanent reinforced concrete stadium of its kind in the country. The stadium's structure actually played a role in the evolution of the college game. Seeking to reduce the alarming number of deaths and serious injuries in the sport, the Father of Football, Walter Camp (former captain of the Yale football team), suggested widening the field to open up the game. But the state-of-the-art Harvard Stadium was too narrow to accommodate a wider playing surface. So, other steps had to be taken. Camp would instead support revolutionary new rules for the 1906 season. These included legalizing the forward pass, perhaps the most significant rule change in the sport's history.

Older than The Game by 23 years, the Harvard-Yale Regatta was the original source of the athletic rivalry between the two schools. It is held annually in June on the Thames river in eastern Connecticut. The Harvard crew is typically considered to be one of the top teams in the country in rowing. Today, Harvard fields top teams in several other sports, such as ice hockey (with a strong rivalry against Cornellmarker), squash, and even recently won NCAA titles in Men's and Women's Fencing. Harvard also won the Intercollegiate Sailing Association National Championships in 2003.

Harvard's mens' ice hockey team won the school's first NCAA Championship in any team sport in 1989. Harvard was also the first Ivy League institution to win a NCAA championship title in a women's sport when its women's lacrosse team won the NCAA Championship in 1990.

Harvard Undergraduate Television has footage from historical games and athletic events including the 2005 pep-rally before the Harvard-Yale Game. Harvard's official athletics website has more comprehensive information about Harvard's athletic facilities.


Harvard has several fight songs, the most played of which, especially at football, are "Ten Thousand Men of Harvard" and "Harvardiana." While "Fair Harvard" is actually the alma mater, "Ten Thousand Men" is better known outside the university. The Harvard University Band performs these fight songs, and other cheers, at football and hockey games.

Harvard in fiction and popular culture

Harvard's central place in Americanmarker elite circles has made it the setting for many novels, plays, films and other cultural works.

"The Second Happiest Day" by "John Phillips" (John P. Marquand, Jr.) depicts the Harvard of the generation of World War II.

Love Story, by Harvard alumnus (and Yale classics professor) Erich Segal, 1970, concerns a romance between a wealthy Harvard pre-law hockey player (Ryan O'Neal) and a brilliant Radcliffe student of musicology on scholarship (Ali MacGraw). Both novel and movie are deeply infused with Cambridge color. One enduring Harvard tradition in recent years has been the annual screening of Love Story to incoming freshmen, during which members of the Crimson Key Society, the tour-giving organization on campus, make catcalls and other offerings of mock abuse. Other works of Erich Segal, The Class (1985) and Doctors (1988) also featured the leading characters as Harvard students.

Harvard has been featured in many U.S. film and television productions, including Stealing Harvard, Legally Blonde, Gilmore Girls, Queer as Folk, The Firm, The Paper Chase, Good Will Hunting, With Honors, How High,Sugar and Spice, Soul Man, 21 , Harvard Man. Since the filming of Love Story in the 1960s the university, until the summer of 2007 filming of The Great Debaters did not allow any movies to be filmed in campus buildings; most films are shot in look-alike cities, such as Torontomarker, and colleges such as UCLAmarker, Wheatonmarker and Bridgewater Statemarker, although outdoor and aerial shots of Harvard's Cambridge campus are often used. The graduation scene from With Honors was filmed in front of Foellinger Auditorium at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaignmarker.

Numerous novels are set at Harvard or feature characters with Harvard connections. Robert Langdon, the main character in Dan Brown's novels The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, is described as a Harvard "professor of symbology", (although "symbology" is not the name of an actual academic discipline). The protagonist of Pamela Thomas-Graham's series of mystery novels (Blue Blood, Orange Crushed, and A Darker Shade Of Crimson) is an African-American Harvard professor. Prominent novels with Harvard students as protagonists include William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac Nation. Douglas Preston's ex-CIA agent Wyman Ford is a Harvard alumnus. The students are often accused of communistic tendencies. Ford appears in the novels Tyrannosaur Canyon and Blasphemy. Much of the action in Margaret Atwood's post-apocalyptic novel The Handmaid's Tale takes place in Cambridge, with vaguely-recognizable Harvard landmarks occasionally making their way into the narrator's place descriptions.

Also set at Harvard is the Koreanmarker hit TV series Love Story in Harvard, filmed at University of Southern Californiamarker. American television's fictional Harvard graduates include Sex and the City character Miranda Hobbes; Gilligan's Island's resident aristocrat Thurston Howell, III, played by Jim Backus;M*A*S*H's pompous Boston Brahmin, Major Charles Emerson Winchester III (a graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Medical School), played by David Ogden Stiers; Dr. Frasier Crane of Cheers and Frasier; and fictional Harvard Law graduates Ben Matlock of Matlock and Ally McBeal of the eponymous series. Ivory Tower is a student-produced Harvard Undergraduate Television show about fictional Harvard students.

The university was prominently featured in the 2008 television series pilot for Fringe and in the television program Gossip Girl during the second series. The university and several of its buildings are featured prominently in the 2009 bestselling novel The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe.

Professors Dr. Richard Alpert, later known as Ram Dass, and Dr. Timothy Leary were fired from Harvard in May 1963. Popular opinion attributes their discharge to their activism involving psychedelics, and the popularization and dispensation of psilocybin to students.

Mariah Carey in her 2009 song “Up Out My Face” sings: "Even the Harvard University graduating class of 2010 couldn't put us back together again."

The 1948 Dr Suess book Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose remarks on "Harvard Club Wall".

Further reading

  • Hoerr, John, We Can't Eat Prestige: The Women Who Organized Harvard; Temple University Press, 1997, ISBN 1-56639-535-6
  • John T. Bethell, Harvard Observed: An Illustrated History of the University in the Twentieth Century, Harvard University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-674-37733-8
  • Harry R. Lewis, Excellence Without a Soul: How a Great University Forgot Education (2006) ISBN 1586483935
  • John Trumpbour, ed., How Harvard Rules. Reason in the Service of Empire, Boston: South End Press, 1989, ISBN 0-89608-283-0
  • Story, R. The Forging of an Aristocracy: Harvard and the Boston Upper Class,1800-1870, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1981

See also


  1. Harvard University Office of the Provost: Faculties and Allied Institutions
  2. (See: Harvard Corporation) With regard to age, several institutions founded in the mid-1700s have a difference of opinion over relative position, but none today explicitly challenges Harvard's "oldest" position. One possible challenger is Georgetown University, whose founding date is debated. In the past, the university had taken 1634 as the date of its foundation (two years before that of Harvard),[1] this being the year that Jesuit education began on the site.[2] [3] It was not until 1789, however, the founding date currently recognized by the university, that the name Georgetown was taken for the institution. Another potential claimant, the College of William and Mary, describes itself, and is described by supporters, as "America's second-oldest college" and gives its year of "founding" as 1693[4]. A page of its website states, "The College of William & Mary... was the first college planned for the United States. Its roots go back to the College proposed at Henrico in 1619...." but notes that "The College is second only to Harvard University in actual operation."[5]. See Henricus for the University of Henrico, and Colonial colleges for a summary of relevant institutional dates. Unqualified characterizations of Harvard as "oldest" abound. The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica article on Harvard University which opens with the line "HARVARD UNIVERSITY, the oldest of American educational institutions" (Volume 13, HAR-HUR, p. 38; also [6]). Baedeker's United States, in 1893 called Harvard "the oldest... of American seats of learning." Harvard's own choice of words is "Harvard University... is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States."[7], thus recognizing the fact that fifteen universities existed in the Spanish dominions in the Americas, from Mexico to Cordoba in Argentina and Santiago in Chile.
  3. The Harvard Guide: The Early History of Harvard University
  4. Harvard guide intro
  5. Anonymous, New Englands First Fruit, (London, 1643), p. 23 (1865 facsimile).
  6. "Anonymous, New Englands First Fruit, (London, 1643), p. 26 (1865 facsimile).
  7. Ceremony Honors Early Indian Students, Mass Moments (a newsletter of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities), May 3, 1997. Accessed on line October 22, 2007.
  8. Baltzell, D. E. & Schneiderman, H. G. (1994). Judgment and Sensibility: Religion and Stratification." Transaction Publishers, ISBN 1-56000-048-1. The material cited is a review of a book by Ronald Story (1980), The Forging of an Aristocracy: Harvard and the Boston Upper Class, 1800-1870, Wesleyan University Press, ISBN 0-8195-5044-2.
  9. Story, R. (1980). The Forging of an Aristocracy: Harvard and the Boston Upper Class, 1800-1870. Wesleyan University Press, ISBN 0-8195-5044-2 (p. 50: Harvard's explosive growth from 1800 to 1850 separate it from other colleges)
  10. Story, R. (1980). op. cit. p. 97, (1815-1855 as the era when Harvard began to be perceived as socially advantageous)
  11. Steinberg, S. (2001). The Ethnic Myth. Beacon Press, ISBN 0-8070-4153-X. (Harvard most democratic of the Big Three under Eliot, p. 234)
  12. , p. 23: "had colonial names;" p. 36, "Bertie's and Billy's parents owned town and country houses in New York. The parents of Oscar had come over in the steerage. Money filled the pockets of Bertie and Billy; therefore were their heads empty of money and full of less cramping thoughts. Oscar had fallen upon the reverse of this fate. Calculation was his second nature."
  13. pp. 21-23; quotes full text policy announcement, explains the openness by suggesting Lowell perceived his actions to be forthright and courageous and as motivated by a wish to restrict the growth of campus anti-semitism.
  14. Levenson, Michael (2006), "Brandeis pulls artwork...." The Boston Globe, May 3, 2006:"Brandeis, a nonsectarian institution, was founded in 1948, by American Jews seeking to establish a university free from the quotas that Jews faced at elite colleges."
  15. Wright, W. (2005). Harvard's Secret Court: The Savage 1920 Purge of Campus Homosexuals, St. Martin's Press, New York. ISBN 0-312-32271-2.
  16. Malcolm Gladwell. (2005). Getting In. The New Yorker, October 10, 2005
  17. Malka A. Older. (1996). Preparatory schools and the admissions process. The Harvard Crimson, January 24, 1996
  18. Associated Press. (2004). In first, Harvard admits more women than men as undergraduates. The Boston Globe, April 1, 2004
  20. Bombardieri, M. (2005). Summers' remarks on women draw fire. The Boston Globe, January 17, 2005.
  21. "Faust Expected To Be Named President This Weekend," The Harvard Crimson, 8 February 2007
  22. "Harvard names Drew Faust as its 28th president," Office of News and Public Affairs, 11 February 2007
  23. (“Faculty”)
  24. p. 20.
  25. University Colors
  26. Burlington Free Press, June 24, 2009, page 11B, ""Harvard to cut 275 jobs" Associated Press
  27. "Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences,", February 2007
  28. Saudi Gives $20 Million to Georgetown & Harvard
  29. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal donates $20 million to support the Harvard University Islamic Studies Program
  30. Saudi in the Classroom
  31. The Saudi Fifth Column On Our Nation's Campuses
  32. Nina Munk on Hard Times at Harvard
  33. Understanding Endowments, Part I
  34. Biography in the Exeter Bulletin
  35. Harvard University Allston Initiative Home Page
  36. Rosane, O. (2006). College Administrators Take On Inflated Grade Averages. Columbia Spectator, March 20, 2006.
  37. Kohn, A. (2002). The Dangerous Myth of Grade Inflation. The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 8, 2002.
  38. No author given. (2003). Brevia. Harvard Magazine, January-February 2003.
  39. Milzoff, R. M., Paley, A. R., & Reed, B. J. (2001). Grade Inflation is Real. Fifteen Minutes March 1, 2001.
  40. Bombardieri, M. & Schweitzer, S. (2006). "At Harvard, more concern for top grades." The Boston Globe, February 12, 2006. p. B3 (Benedict Gross quotes, 23.7% A/25% A- figures, characterized as an "all-time high.").
  41. Associated Press. (2004). Princeton becomes first to formally combat grade inflation. USA Today, April 26, 2004.
  42. Hicks, D. L. (2002). Should Our Colleges Be Ranked?. Letter to [The New York Times, September 20, 2002.
  43. Merrow, J. (2004). Grade Inflation: It's Not Just an Issue for the Ivy League. Carnegie Perspectives, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
  44. US News and World Report. (2006). National Universities: Top Schools
  45. [8]  — A 2008 ranking from the THES - QS of the world’s research universities.
  51. U.S. News & World Report (2006). In 2005, only 8.9% of a record of over 22000 applicants were accepted  — making it the most competitive year in history. The Best Graduate Schools 2006.
  52. Harvard Ends Early Admission, The New York Times, By Alan Finder and Karen W. Arenson, September 12, 2006
  53. Shapiro, J. (1997). A Second Look.
  54. Harvard announces sweeping middle-income initiative  — The Harvard University Gazette
  55. Also accessible at International Herald Tribune.
  56. See the FAQ on the Harvard-Google partnership.
  57. . However, there is some debate about what constitutes a "single" library: the University of California states that "With collections totaling more than 34 million volumes, the more than 100 libraries throughout UC are surpassed in size on the American continent only by the Library of Congress collection" (
  58. See the library portal listing of archives and special collections [9].
  59. Bombardieri, M. (2005). Student life at Harvard lags peer schools, poll finds. The Boston Globe, March 29, 2005.
  60. Adams, W. L., Feinstein, B., Schneider, A. P., Thompson, A. H., & and Wasserstein, S. A. (2003). The Cult of Yale. The Harvard Crimson, November 20, 2003.
  61. Feinstein, B., Schneider, A. P., Thompson, A. H., & Wasserstein, S. A. (2003). The Cult of Yale, Part II. The Harvard Crimson, November 20, 2003.
  62. Ho, M. W. & Rogers, J. P. (2005). Harvard Students Less Satisfied Than Peers With Undergraduate Experience, Survey Finds. The Harvard Crimson, March 31, 2005.
  64. "Harvard Student Agencies, Inc."
  65. "Harvard Student Agencies, About Us"
  69. "The Harvard Wireless Club: 80 Years of History of W1AF"
  70. The Harvard Guide: Financial Aid at Harvard
  71. "History of American Football"
  72. Nelson, David M., Anatomy of a Game: Football, the Rules, and the Men Who Made the Game, 1994, Pages 127-128
  73. Rogers, M. F. (1991). Novels, Novelists, and Readers: Toward a Phenomenological Sociology of Literature. SUNY Press, ISBN 0-7914-0603-2.
  74. Burr, T. (2005)
  75. Jampel, C. E. (2004). Ruffling Religious Feathers. The Harvard Crimson, February 12, 2004.
  76. Catalano, N. M. (2004). Harvard TV Show Popular in Korea. The Harvard Crimson, December 13, 2004.
  77. The Ivory Tower
  78. (“He [Alpert] and his associate, Timothy F. Leary, have been as much propagandists for the drug experience as investigators of it.…  They have violated the one condition Harvard placed upon their work: that they not use undergraduates as subjects for drug experiments.”)
  79. Carey, M. (2009). Up out my face. On Memoirs of an imperfect angel [CD]. New York, NY: Island. (“If we were two Lego blocks, even the Harvard University graduating class of 2010 couldn’t put us back together again.”)  Cited in

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