REVIEWS

Harvard University introduction

Harvard University is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, and research, and to developing leaders in many disciplines who make a difference globally. The University, which is based in Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts, has an enrollment of over 20,000 degree candidates, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Harvard has more than 360,000 alumni around the world. 
 
Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was named after the College’s first benefactor, the young minister John Harvard of Charlestown, who upon his death in 1638 left his library and half his estate to the institution. A statue of John Harvard stands today in front of University Hall in Harvard Yard, and is perhaps the University’s best known landmark. 
 

The Harvard Shield

On Sept. 8, 1836, at Harvard’s Bicentennial celebration, it was announced that President Josiah Quincy had found the first rough sketch of the College arms – a shield with the Latin motto “VERITAS” (“Verity” or “Truth”) on three books – while researching his History of Harvard University in the College Archives. During the Bicentennial, a white banner atop a large tent in the Yard publicly displayed this design for the first time  Until Quincy’s discovery, the hand-drawn sketch (from records of an Overseers meeting on Jan. 6, 1644) had been filed away and forgotten. It became the basis of the seal officially adopted by the Corporation in 1843 and still informs the version used today.

U.S. Presidents and Honorary Degrees

After George Washington’s Continental Army forced the British to leave Boston in March 1776, the Harvard Corporation and Overseers voted on April 3, 1776, to confer an honorary degree upon the general, who accepted it that very day (probably at his Cambridge headquarters in Craigie House). Washington next visited Harvard in 1789, as the first U.S. president.

Other U.S. presidents to receive an honorary degree include:

  • 1781 John Adams
  • 1787 Thomas Jefferson
  • 1822 John Quincy Adams
  • 1833 Andrew Jackson
  • 1872 Ulysses S. Grant
  • 1905 William Howard Taft
  • 1907 Woodrow Wilson
  • 1917 Herbert Hoover
  • 1919 Theodore Roosevelt
  • 1929 Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • 1946 Dwight Eisenhower
  • 1956 John F. Kennedy
  • 2014 George H.W. Bush

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