Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It’s also the first corporation ever established in the US.
Harvard was established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature and was named after its first benefactor. It originally primarily trained Congregationalist and Unitarian clergy but is now quite secular in its curriculum as well as its students. There are eleven separate academic units including ten faculties and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (formerly known as Radcliffe College).
The academic units include a business school located in Allston, Massachusetts, medical, dental and public health schools in the Longwood neighborhood of Boston, Harvard School of Engineering in Cambridge itself, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Law School (the 1973 film and later television show The Paper Chase followed the experience of a Harvard Law School first-year student played by Timothy Bottoms as he dealt with a demanding professor who was also the father of his girlfriend), Harvard Kennedy School, and the Harvard graduate schools (Arts and Sciences, Design, and Education).
Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts and currently has its first female president, Drew Gilpin Faust. Gilpin Faust was elected the president of Harvard in 2007.
Well-known Harvard alumni include Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, NBA basketball player Jeremy Lin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and numerous US presidents including George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Al Gore.
Many people, including former US presidents George H.W. Bush and Richard Milhous Nixon, have referred to Harvard disparagingly as a ‘bastion of liberalism.’ The school and its faculty are considered to be politically left of center (i.e. liberal).
Until 1945, most students at Harvard were the rich alumni of select New England prep schools. After 1945 through 1960, admissions policies were opened up to bring in mostly white middle class students from public schools.
In the 2009-2010 school year, Harvard had over 7000 undergraduate students and nearly 14000 graduate students who were served by a faculty of almost 2500 professors, lecturers, and instructors.
Harvard and its environs have been used as the backdrop for several well-known works of fiction. Love Story, The Class, and Doctors (all by Erich Segal) were set at Harvard, as was The Paper Chase (written in 1970 by John Jay Osborn Jr.). The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner features the protagonist’s experiences at Harvard while Marilyn French’s ‘The Women’s Room’ features her female protagonist’s experiences there.