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President of Harvard University

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

President of Harvard University
Harvard University shield.svg
Lawrence Bacow

since July 1, 2018 (2018-07-01)
AppointerHarvard Corporation
Formation1640 (1640)
First holderHenry Dunster
WebsiteOffice of the President

The President of Harvard University is the chief administrator of the university and the ex officio chairman of the Harvard Corporation.[1] Each is appointed by and is responsible to the other members of that body, who delegate to the president the day-to-day running of the university.

Harvard is a famously decentralized university, noted for the "every tub on its own bottom" independence of its various constituent faculties. They set their own academic standards and manage their own budgets. The president, however, plays an important part in university-wide planning and strategy. Each names a faculty's dean (and, since the foundation of the office in 1994, the university's provost), and grants tenure to recommended professors; however, he or she is expected to make such decisions after extensive consultation with faculty members.

Harvard presidents have traditionally influenced educational practices nationwide. Charles W. Eliot, for example, originated America's familiar system of a smorgasbord of elective courses available to each student;[2] James B. Conant worked to introduce standardized testing; Derek Bok and Neil L. Rudenstine argued for the continued importance of diversity in higher education.

Recently, however, the job has become increasingly administrative, especially as fund-raising campaigns have taken on central importance in large institutions such as Harvard. Some have criticized this trend to the extent it has prevented the president from focusing on substantive issues in higher education.[3]

Each president is professor in some department of the university and teaches from time to time.

Harvard's current president is Lawrence Bacow, formerly the president of Tufts University.[4]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Harvard names Lawrence S. Bacow as 29th president
  • ✪ Address | Lawrence S. Bacow JD '76, MPP '76, PhD '78, President, Harvard University
  • ✪ Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust Speech | Harvard Commencement 2016
  • ✪ Harvard University Presidential Inauguration of Lawrence S. Bacow | October 5, 2018
  • ✪ Conan O’Brien in conversation with Harvard University President Drew Faust


I grew up in Pontiac, Michigan, a working-class town with at the time three General Motors plans. My parents were both immigrants, they're actually both refugees. My mother came here on the second Liberty ship that brought refugees from Europe after the war. She was a survivor of Auschwitz. She was the... sadly, the only member of her family and actually the only Jew from her town who survived the war. My father was born in Minsk and was brought here by his family as a child to escape the pogroms of Eastern Europe. I've often said that this is a remarkable country for many, many reasons. Where else in the world can you go, literally in one generation from off the boat with nothing, to enjoy the kind of life and opportunity that I've enjoyed that my parents and my sister also enjoyed? And I think higher education was at the root of that. Part of what motivates me is to ensure that others have the same kind of opportunities that I've enjoyed. Harvard is a special place, but it's also a special place to me. It's where I figured out that I was the teacher at heart, it's where I figured out that I wanted to be a scholar and devote my life to scholarship, it's where I developed my lifelong passion for higher education. These are interesting and challenging times for higher education, and part of what attracts me to this opportunity is the chance to speak not just on behalf of Harvard, but on behalf of all that colleges and universities stand for. This is the first time I think in our history where people have seriously challenged the value of colleges and universities. Both they've asked whether or not it's a worthwhile investment on behalf of students and their families, but also people are raising questions about whether or not colleges and universities are actually good for society. Clearly I believe that they are, I wouldn't be here if I didn't. We scour the world to try and admit the very best students, we create remarkable opportunities for young people, we do research which literally changes the world, but also I think it enables the American dream. It gives people opportunity, to do things that are almost unimaginable, absent it. That's why our colleges and universities are so important, and this particular place is so important. One of the most important people in my life was my fourth and fifth grade teacher. Her name was Shirley Chandler, and I learned a tremendous amount from her, not the least of which was she taught me the importance of listening to others. I think most of us have been touched by great teachers in our lives, and we encounter them at all levels. Great faculty inspire their students, they take a lifelong interest in their students, they mentor their students, and continue to try and help nudge them along. That's what we do at a place like this. And I think if we're lucky we never stop learning, and we never stop encountering great teachers. I would say there were a few things that I'm really proud about during my tenure at Tufts. Probably the most important achievement was dramatically increasing access by raising a lot of money for financial aid. In improving access we greatly enhanced the diversity of the student body. I think diversity is important for a lot of reasons, but the most important is that it's a pathway to excellence. We would never attract the very best if we excluded people because of their background or their race of their ethnicity, or any other criteria. We need to both reflect the world that we live in, but also to shape that world. Ultimately, we learn from our differences. Sometimes I worry that in today's world we think of higher education only in terms of what it does for the individual. With this extraordinary education also comes responsibility, and it's responsibility to make a difference in the world. Now different people are going to do that differently and that's fine, but I want to make sure that all of our graduates, no matter what they do, understand they have a responsibility to engage. What we can't afford is to have good people not get involved, because if that happens, then we we have no standing to complain about outcomes. We are responsible for making the world a better place. you



At Harvard's founding it was headed by a "schoolmaster", Nathaniel Eaton. He was soon dismissed, however, and when in 1640 Henry Dunster was brought in he adopted the title "president". The origins of this title have been grounds for a certain amount of speculation; see President#Title.

Harvard was founded for the training of Puritan clergy, and even though its mission was soon broadened, nearly all presidents through the end of the 18th century were in holy orders.

All presidents from Leonard Hoar through Nathan Pusey were graduates of Harvard College (i.e., they were undergraduates at the university). Of the presidents since Pusey, Bok took his undergraduate degree at Stanford, Rudenstine at Princeton, and Summers at MIT, but each earned a graduate degree at Harvard. Drew Gilpin Faust is the first president since the seventeenth century with no earned Harvard degree.

Presidents of Harvard

Presidents of Harvard Term of office Notes
- Nathaniel Eaton 1637–1639 Referred to as "schoolmaster" of Harvard College
1 Henry Dunster 1640–1654
2 Charles Chauncy 1654–1672
3 Leonard Hoar 1672–1675
4 Urian Oakes 1675–1680 (acting); 1680–1681
5 John Rogers 1682–1684
6 Increase Mather 1685–1686 (acting); 1686–1692 (rector); 1692–1701
- Samuel Willard 1701–1707 (acting)
7 John Leverett 1708–1724
8 Benjamin Wadsworth 1725–1737
9 Edward Holyoke 1737–1769
10 Samuel Locke 1770–1773
11 Samuel Langdon 1774–1780
12 Joseph Willard 1781–1804
- Eliphalet Pearson 1804–1806 (acting)
13 Samuel Webber 1806–1810
14 John Thornton Kirkland 1810–1828
15 Josiah Quincy 1829–1845
16 Edward Everett 1846–1849
17 Jared Sparks 1849–1853
18 James Walker 1853–1860
19 Cornelius Conway Felton 1860–1862
20 Thomas Hill 1862–1868
21 Charles William Eliot 1869–1909
22 A. Lawrence Lowell 1909–1933
23 James B. Conant 1933–1953
24 Nathan Pusey 1953–1971
25 Derek Bok 1971–1991; 2006–2007 (acting)
26 Neil Rudenstine 1991–2001
27 Lawrence Summers 2001–2006
28 Drew Gilpin Faust 2007–2018
29 Lawrence Bacow 2018–present[5]

John Winthrop served as acting president in 1769 and again in 1773; but both times he declined the offer of the full presidency on grounds of old age.

Other minor acting presidents have included William Brattle, Edward Wigglesworth (1780–1781), Henry Ware (1810, 1828–1829), Andrew Preston Peabody (1862, 1868–1869), and Henry Pickering Walcott. Henry Rosovsky, former Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, served as acting president for three months in 1987 when Bok traveled abroad. Provost Albert Carnesale served as acting president November 1994 – February 1995, during Rudenstine's leave of absence. Bok served as interim president July 1, 2006 – June 30, 2007, until the appointment of Faust.


  1. ^ Central Administration Archived November 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Governance of the University, from Office of the Provost
  2. ^ "Eliot, Charles W. (Brief biography)". "Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, 2001".
  3. ^ Lee, Richard S. (March 10, 2001). "An Empty Chair at Harvard (Op-Ed)". The New York Times. Retrieved October 17, 2007.
  4. ^ Biography Archived October 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Hartocollis, Anemona (February 11, 2018). "Harvard Chooses Lawrence Bacow as Its Next President". The New York Times. Retrieved February 13, 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 10 March 2019, at 00:45
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