HARVARD UNIVERSIITY, CAMBRIDGE MASSACHUSETTS
Harvard was named after its first benefactor, John Harvard. Although it was never formally affiliated with a church, the college primarily trained Congregationalist and Unitarian clergy. Harvard’s curriculum and students became increasingly secular throughout the eighteenth century and by the nineteenth century had emerged as the central cultural establishment among Boston elites.
Following the American Civil War, President Charles W. Eliot’s forty year tenure (1869–1909) transformed the college and affiliated professional schools into a centralized research university and Harvard became a founding member of the Association of American Universities in 1900. James Bryant Conant led the university through the Great Depression and World War II and began to reform the curriculum and liberalize admissions after the war.
The undergraduate college became coeducational after its 1977 merger with Radcliffe College. Drew Gilpin Faust was elected the 28th president in 2007 and is first woman to lead the university. Harvard has the largest financial endowment of any school in the world, standing at $25.6 billion as of September 2009. Harvard’s history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
The university comprises ten separate academic units with campuses throughout the Boston metropolitan area. Harvard’s 210-acre (85 ha) main campus is centered on Harvard Yard in Cambridge, approximately 3.4 miles (5.5 km) northwest of downtown Boston. The business school and athletics facilities, including Harvard Stadium, are located across the Charles River in Allston and the medical, dental, and public health schools are located in the Longwood Medical Area.
Harvard employs over 2,000 faculty to teach and advise approximately 6,700 undergraduate and 13,600 graduate and professional students. Eight U.S. Presidents have graduated from Harvard and 75 Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the university as students, faculty, or staff. Harvard is also the alma mater of sixty-two billionaires, the most in the country. The Harvard University Library is the largest academic library in the United States, and the second largest library in the country.