The seal of the Harvard Corporation
, found on Harvard diplomas. Christo et Ecclesiae
("For Christ and Church") is one of Harvard's several early mottoes.
A 1643 publication gave the school's purpose as "to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity, dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches when our present ministers shall lie in the dust."
It trained many Puritan ministers in its early years
and offered a classic curriculum based on the English university model—many leaders in the colony had attended the University of Cambridge
—but conformed to the tenets of Puritanism
. Harvard has never affiliated with any particular denomination, though many of its earliest graduates went on to become clergymen in Congregational and Unitarian churches.
served as president from 1681 to 1701. In 1708, John Leverett
became the first president who was not also a clergyman, marking a turning of the college away from Puritanism and toward intellectual independence.
In the 19th century, Enlightenment
ideas of reason and free will were widespread among Congregational
ministers, putting those ministers and their congregations in tension with more traditionalist, Calvinist
When Hollis Professor of Divinity
David Tappan died in 1803 and President
Joseph Willard died a year later, a struggle broke out over their replacements. Henry Ware
was elected to the Hollis chair in 1805, and the liberal Samuel Webber
was appointed to the presidency two years later, signaling the shift from the dominance of traditional ideas at Harvard to the dominance of liberal, Arminian
Richard Rummell's 1906 watercolor landscape view, facing northeast.
In the 20th century, Harvard's reputation grew as a burgeoning endowment and prominent professors expanded the university's scope. Rapid enrollment growth continued as new graduate schools were begun and the undergraduate college
expanded. Radcliffe College
, established in 1879 as the female counterpart of Harvard College, became one of the most prominent schools for women in the United States. Harvard became a founding member of the Association of American Universities
The student body in the early decades of the century was predominantly "old-stock, high-status Protestants, especially Episcopalians, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians." A 1923 proposal by President A. Lawrence Lowell
that Jews be limited to 15% of undergraduates was rejected, but Lowell did ban blacks from freshman dormitories.
President James B. Conant
reinvigorated creative scholarship to guarantee Harvard's preeminence among research institutions. He saw higher education as a vehicle of opportunity for the talented rather than an entitlement for the wealthy, so Conant devised programs to identify, recruit, and support talented youth. In 1943, he asked the faculty to make a definitive statement about what general education ought to be, at the secondary as well as at the college level. The resulting Report
, published in 1945, was one of the most influential manifestos in 20th century American education.
Between 1945 and 1960, admissions were opened up to bring in a more diverse group of students. No longer drawing mostly from select New England prep schools
, the undergraduate college
became accessible to striving middle class students from public schools; many more Jews and Catholics were admitted, but few blacks, Hispanics, or Asians.
Throughout the rest of the 20th century, Harvard became more diverse.
Harvard's graduate schools began admitting women in small numbers in the late 19th century. During World War II, students at Radcliffe College
(which since 1879 had been paying Harvard professors to repeat their lectures for women) began attending Harvard classes alongside men.
Women were first admitted to the medical school
Since 1971, Harvard has controlled essentially all aspects of undergraduate admission, instruction, and housing for Radcliffe women. In 1999, Radcliffe was formally merged into Harvard.
Harvard's 209-acre (85 ha) main campus is centered on Harvard Yard
in Cambridge, about 3 miles (5 km) west-northwest of downtown Boston
, and extends into the surrounding Harvard Square
neighborhood. Harvard Yard itself contains key administrative offices such as University Hall
and Massachusetts Hall
; libraries such as Widener
, and Lamont
; Memorial Church
; academic buildings such as Sever Hall
and Harvard Hall
; and most 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 Quadrangle
(commonly referred to as the "Quad") which housed Radcliffe College
students until Radcliffe merged its residential system with Harvard. Each residential house is a community with undergraduates, faculty deans, and resident tutors, as well as a dining hall, library, and recreational spaces.
The houses were made possible by a gift from Yale University
alumnus Edward Harkness
Harvard has several commercial real estate holdings in Cambridge.
The university is actively expanding into Allston, where it now owns more land than in Cambridge.
Plans include new construction and renovation for the Business School, a hotel and conference center, graduate student housing, Harvard Stadium, and other athletics facilities.
In 2021, the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
will expand into a new, 500,000+ square foot Science and Engineering Complex (SEC) in Allston.
The SEC will be adjacent to the Enterprise Research Campus, the Business School, and the Harvard Innovation Labs to encourage technology- and life science-focused startups as well as collaborations with mature companies.
The Medical School
, School of Dental Medicine
, and the School of Public Health
are located on a 21-acre (8.5 ha) campus in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area in Boston about 3.3 miles (5.3 km) south of the Cambridge campus.
Several Harvard-affiliated hospitals and research institutes are also in Longwood, including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
, Boston Children's Hospital
, Brigham and Women's Hospital
, Dana–Farber Cancer Institute
, Joslin Diabetes Center
, and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering
. Additional affiliates, most notably Massachusetts General Hospital
, are located throughout the Greater Boston area.
Harvard also owns the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection
in Washington, D.C.
, the Harvard Forest
in Petersham, Massachusetts
, the Concord Field Station in Estabrook Woods
in Concord, Massachusetts
the Villa I Tatti
research center in Florence
the Harvard Shanghai Center in Shanghai
and the Arnold Arboretum
in the Jamaica Plain
neighborhood of Boston.
Organization and administration
About $2 billion of investment income is annually distributed to fund operations.
Harvard's ability to fund its degree and financial aid programs depends on the performance of its endowment; a poor performance in fiscal year 2016 forced a 4.4% cut in the number of graduate students funded by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Endowment income is critical, as only 22% of revenue is from students' tuition, fees, room, and board.
In the late 1980s, during the divestment from South Africa
movement, student activists erected a symbolic "shantytown" on Harvard Yard and blockaded a speech by South African Vice Consul Duke Kent-Brown.
The university eventually reduced its South African holdings by $230 million (out of $400 million) in response to the pressure.
Harvard is a large, highly residential research university
offering 50 undergraduate
134 graduate degrees,
and 32 professional degrees.
For the 2018–2019 academic year, Harvard granted 1,665 baccalaureate degrees, 1,013 graduate degrees, and 5,695 professional degrees.
The four-year, full-time undergraduate program has a liberal arts and sciences
To graduate in the usual four years, undergraduates normally take four courses per semester.
In most majors, an honors degree requires advanced coursework and a senior thesis.
Though some introductory courses have large enrollments, the median class size is 12 students.
Harvard is a founding member of the Association of American Universities
and a preeminent research university with "very high" research activity (R1) and comprehensive doctoral programs across the arts, sciences, engineering, and medicine according to the Carnegie Classification.
With the medical school
consistently ranking first among medical schools for research,
biomedical research is an area of particular strength for the university. More than 11,000 faculty and over 1,600 graduate students conduct research at the medical school as well as its 15 affiliated hospitals and research institutes.
The medical school and its affiliates attracted $1.65 billion in competitive research grants from the National Institutes of Health
in 2019, more than twice as much as any other university.
Libraries and museums
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
's sculpture Large Four Piece Reclining Figure
, near Lamont Library
The Harvard Art Museums
comprise three museums. The Arthur M. Sackler Museum
covers Asian, Mediterranean, and Islamic art, the Busch–Reisinger Museum
(formerly the Germanic Museum) covers central and northern European art, and the Fogg Museum
covers Western art from the Middle Ages to the present emphasizing Italian early Renaissance
, British pre-Raphaelite
, and 19th-century French art. The Harvard Museum of Natural History
includes the Harvard Mineralogical Museum
, the Harvard University Herbaria
featuring the Blaschka Glass Flowers
exhibit, and the Museum of Comparative Zoology
. Other museums include the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts
, designed by Le Corbusier
and housing the film archive, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
, specializing in the cultural history and civilizations of the Western Hemisphere, and the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East
featuring artifacts from excavations in the Middle East
Reputation and rankings
Student demographics (Fall 2019)
Harvard's athletic rivalry with Yale
is intense in every sport in which they meet, coming to a climax each fall in the annual football meeting
, which dates back to 1875.
Over more than three and a half centuries, Harvard alumni have contributed creatively and significantly to society, the arts and sciences, business, and national and international affairs. Harvard's alumni include eight U.S. presidents
, 188 living billionaires
, 79 Nobel laureates
, 7 Fields Medal winners
, 9 Turing Award laureates
, 369 Rhodes Scholars
, 252 Marshall Scholars
, and 13 Mitchell Scholars
Harvard students and alumni have also won 10 Academy Awards
, 48 Pulitzer Prizes
, and 108 Olympic medals
(including 46 gold medals), and they have founded many notable companies worldwide
- Notable Harvard alumni include:
Author, political activist, and lecturer Helen Keller
(AB, 1904, Radcliffe College)
Poet and Nobel laureate in literature T. S. Eliot
(AB, 1909; AM, 1910)
Economist and Nobel laureate in economics Paul Samuelson
(AM, 1936; PhD, 1941)
7th President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson
45th Vice President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore
11th Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto
(AB, 1973, Radcliffe College)
14th Chair of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke
(AB, 1975; AM, 1975)
17th Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts
(AB, 1976; JD, 1979)
Founder of Microsoft and philanthropist Bill Gates
(College, 1977;[a 1]
8th Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Elena Kagan
Nominal Harvard College class year: did not graduate
Literature and popular culture
The perception of Harvard as a center of either elite achievement, or elitist privilege, has made it a frequent literary and cinematic backdrop. "In the grammar of film, Harvard has come to mean both tradition, and a certain amount of stuffiness," film critic Paul Sherman has said.
Harvard's policy since 1970 (after the damage caused by Love Story
) has been to permit filming on its property only rarely, so most scenes set at Harvard (especially indoor shots, but excepting aerial footage and shots of public areas such as Harvard Square) are in fact shot elsewhere.
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- ^ King, Michael (2002). Wrestling with the Angel. p. 371. ...praised as an iconic chronicle of his generation and his WASP-ish class.
- ^ Halberstam, Michael J. (February 18, 1953). "White Shoe and Weak Will". Harvard Crimson. The book is written slickly, but without distinction.... The book will be quick, enjoyable reading for all Harvard men.
- ^ Yardley, Jonathan (December 23, 2009). "Second Reading". The Washington Post. '...a balanced and impressive novel...' [is] a judgment with which I [agree].
- ^ Du Bois, William (February 1, 1953). "Out of a Jitter-and-Fritter World". The New York Times. p. BR5. exhibits Mr. Phillips' talent at its finest
- ^ "John Phillips, The Second Happiest Day". Southwest Review. 38. p. 267. So when the critics say the author of "The Second Happiest Day" is a new Fitzgerald, we think they may be right.
- ^ a b Schwartz, Nathaniel L. (September 21, 1999). "University, Hollywood Relationship Not Always a 'Love Story'". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
- ^ Sarah Thomas (September 24, 2010). "'Social Network' taps other campuses for Harvard role". boston.com.
- ^ "Never Having To Say You're Sorry for 25 Years..." Harvard Crimson. June 3, 1996. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
- ^ Vinciguerra, Thomas (August 20, 2010). "The Disease: Fatal. The Treatment: Mockery". The New York Times.
- ^ Gewertz, Ken (February 8, 1996). "A Many-Splendored 'Love Story'. Movie filmed at Harvard 25 years ago helped to define a generation". Harvard University Gazette.
- ^ Walsh, Colleen (October 2, 2012). "The Paper Chase at 40". Harvard Gazette.
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