One of the most storied, prestigious, and legendary institutions in the world, Harvard will forever hold a place in our hearts as the place in which Mark Zuckerberg totally didn’t steal the idea for Facebook in The Social Network (2010).
Harvard University, founded in 1636 and located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Initially named “New College” or “the college at New Towne”, the institution was renamed “Harvard College” on March 13, 1639 after John Harvard.
An English clergyman and alumnus of the University of Cambridge (which is the namesake for Harvard’s hometown), Harvard bequeathed the College his entire library of 400 books and also threw in £779 pounds sterling for good measure.
Well, he got America’s most famous university named after him, so I guess it was worth the gesture.
That £779 pounds sterling has since been added to and grown into the world’s largest university endowment, a staggering $30.4 billion that is over $10 billion more than the next largest endowment, Yale University at $19.3 billion.
Today, Harvard has about 5,076 acres in real estate holdings to house its eleven different academic divisions, spread out on multiple campuses in the area.
One of the most unique characteristics of Harvard’s student body is that it is mostly made up of postgraduate students. Of Harvard’s 21,000 students, about two-thirds are graduate and professional students, a ratio that skews away from undergrads.
It’s hard to talk about Harvard without talking about the wide array of successful, famous, and influential people who graduated from either the College or one of Harvard’s Professional schools.
Most notably, perhaps, is that Harvard has educated 8 U.S. Presidents — more than any other university. Clocking in second for President production is Yale University, which has graduated 5 (with George W. Bush counting for both Harvard and Yale.)
Here’s a list of all of Harvard’s Presidential grads and some other impressive alumni.
- John Adams, 1797-1801
- John Quincy Adams, 1825-29
- Rutherford B. Hayes, 1877-81
- Theodore Roosevelt, 1901-09
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933-45
- John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1961-63
- George W. Bush, 2001-2009
- Barack Obama, 2009-Present
- Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft, Philanthropist, richest man in the world
- Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of Facebook
- Gabe Newell, Former Microsoft employee, Founder and managing director of Valve Corporation
- Henry David Thoreau, Transcendentalist writer and philosopher
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalist writer
- T.S. Eliot, poet
- E.E. Cummings, poet
- Yo-Yo Ma, world renowned cellist
- Conan O’Brien, television writer and late night host
- Natalie Portman, actor
- Matt Damon, Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Good Will Hunting, actor
- Tommy Lee Jones, Actor
- Darren Aronofsky, Academy Award-nominated director of Black Swan, The Wrestler