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Harvard University

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Harvard University (incorporated as The President and Fellows of Harvard College) is an accredited privete university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded on September 8, 1636 by a vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the US. The institution was named Harvard College on March 13, 1639, after its first principal donor, a young clergyman named John Harvard. A graduate of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, John Harvard bequeathed a few hundred books in his will to form the basis of the college library collection, along with several hundred pounds.

The earliest known official reference to Harvard as a «university» rather than a «college» occurred in the new Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. In his 1869-1909 tenure as Harvard president, Charles William Eliot radically transformed Harvard into the pattern of the modern research university. Eliot's reforms included elective courses, small classes, and entrance examinations. The Harvard model influenced American education nationally, at both college and secondary levels.

In 1999, Radcliffe College, initially founded as the «Harvard Annex» for women, merged formally with Harvard University, becoming the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Harvard has the world's third largest library collection (after the British Library and the Library of Congress, and the largesr financial endowment of any academic institution and the second largest endowment for a non-profit organization behind only the Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation.

A faculty of about 2,300 professors serves about 6,650 undergraduate and 13,000 graduate students. The school colour is crimson, which is also the name of the Harvard sports teams and the daily newspaper, The Harvard Crimson. The colour was unofficially adopted (in preference to magenta) by an 1875 vote of the student body, although the association with some form of red can be traced back to 1858, when Charles William Eliot, a young graduate student who would later become Harvard’s president, bought red bandannas for his crew so they could more easily be distinguished by spectators at a regatta.

Although the officially stated colour is crimson, the colour actually used on sport uniforms and other Harvard insignia is, in fact, very different from crimson. Rather than a bright crimson, it is a dull, dark red, almost like oxblood. Harvard Student Agency guides are instructed to tell visitors that this is because the athletic flag which was used for the canonical colour had become discoloured through use. The de jure colour remains crimson, but the de facto colour, therefore, is quite different.

Prominent student organizations at Harvard include the aforementioned Crimson; the Harvard Advocate, one of the nation's oldest literary magazines and the oldest current publication at Harvard; the Harvard Lampoon, a social club which occasionally publishes a humour magazine («semi-secret Sorrento Square organization which used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine»); and the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, which produces an annual burlesque and celebrates notable actors at its Man of the Year and Woman of the Year ceremonies; and the Harvard Glee Club, the oldest college chorus in America. The Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, composed mainly of undergraduates, was founded in 1808 as the Pierian Sodality and has been performing as a symphony orchestra since the 1950s.

Harvard College has traditionally drawn many of its students from private schools, though today the majority of undergraduates come from public schools across the United States and around the globe. Harvard has a friendly rivalry with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which dates back to 1900, when a merger of the two schools was frequently mooted and at one point officially agreed upon (ultimately canceled by Massachusetts courts). Today, the two schools cooperate as much as they compete, with many joint conferences and programmes. In addition, students at the two schools can cross-register in undergraduate or graduate classes without any additional fees, for credits toward their own school's degrees. The relationship and proximity between the two institutions is a remarkable phenomenon, considering their stature; according to The Times Higher Education Supplement, «The US has the world’s top two universities by our reckoning — Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, neighbours on the Charles River.

Over its history, Harvard has graduated many famous alumni, along with a few infamous ones. Among the best-known are political leaders John Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, Franclin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy; philosopher Henry David Thoreau and author Ralph Waldo Emerson; poets Wallace Stevents, T. S. Eliot and E. E. Cummings; composer Leonard Bernstein; actor Jack Lemmon. Among its most famous faculty members are biologists James D. Watson and E. O. Wilson.

Admissions: Harvard’s overall undergraduate acceptance rate for 2006 was 9.3%, making it one of the most selective universities in the country. The 2006 figures from US News and World Report indicated that the business school admitted 14.3% of its applicants, the engineering division admitted 12.5%, the law school admitted 11.3%, the education school admitted 14.6%, and the medical school admitted 4.9%.

Organization: Harvard is governed by two boards, the President and Fellows of Harvard College , also known as the Harvard Corporation and founded in 1650, and the Harvard Board of Overseers. The President of Harvard University is the day-to-day administrator of Harvard and is appointed by and responsible to the Harvard Corporation.

Harvard today has nine faculties, listed below in order of foundation:

§ The Faculty of Arts and Sciences and its sub-faculty, the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, which together serve:

§ Harvard College, the University's undergraduate portion (1636)

§ The Graduate Schol of Arts and Sciences (organized 1872)

§ The Harvard Division of Continuing Education, including Harvard Extension School (1909) and Harvard Summer School (1871)

§ The Faculty of Medicine, including the Medical School (1782) and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (1867).

§ Harvard Divinity School (1816)

§ Harvard Law School (1817)

§ Harvard Business School (1908)

§ The Graduate School of Design (1914)

§ The Graduate School of Education (1920)

§ The School of Public Health (1922)

§ The John F. Kennedy School of Government (1936)

In 1999, the former Radcliffe College was reorganized as the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Library system and museums: The Harvard University Library System, centered in Widener Library in Harvard Yard and comprising over 90 individual libraries and over 15.3 million volumes, is the fourth largest library collection in the world, after the Library of Congress, the British Library, and the French Bibliothèque nationale; it is the largest university library system in the world. Cabot Science Library, Lamont Library, and Widener Library are three of the most popular libraries for undergraduates to use, with easy access and central locations. Houghton Library is the primary repository for Harvard’s rare books and manuscripts. 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 outisde of East Asia is held in the Harvard-Yenching Library.

Harvard operates several art museums, including the Fogg Museum of Art (with galleries featuring history of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present, with particular strengths in Italian early Renaissance, British pre-Raphaelite, and 19th-century French art); the Busch-Reisinger Museum (formerly Germanic Museum, and formerly housed in Adolphus Busch Hall) (central and northern European art; and a Flentrop pipe organ, familiar from recordings by E. Power Biggs); the Sackler Museum (ancient, Asian, Islamic and later Indian art); the Museum of Natural History, which contains the famous Blaschka Glass Flowers exhibit; the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, specializing in the cultural history and civilizations of the Western Hemisphere; and the Semitic Museum.


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