History of the Presidency

Drew Gilpin Faust

Term of office: 2007

Drew Gilpin Faust is the 28th President of Harvard University and the Lincoln Professor of History in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. She has expanded financial aid to improve access to Harvard College for students of all economic backgrounds and advocated for increased federal funding for scientific research. Read more…

Drew Faust


Lawrence Summers

Lawrence H. Summers

Term of office: 2001-2006 (b. Nov. 30, 1954).

Education: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S. 1975), Harvard University (Ph.D. 1982). Professional background: Economics professor, served in a series of public-policy positions. Immediate past position: Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. Read more…

Neil Rudenstine

Neil L. Rudenstine

Term of office: 1991-2001 (b. Jan. 21, 1935).

Education: Princeton University (B.A. 1956), Oxford University (B.A. 1959; M.A. 1963), Harvard University (Ph.D. 1964). Professional background: English and American literary scholar. Immediate past position: Executive Vice President, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New York. Read more…

Derek Bok

Derek Bok

Term of office: 1971-1991, 2006-2007 (b. March 22, 1930).

Education: Stanford University (A.B. 1951), Harvard Law School (J.D. 1954), George Washington University (A.M. 1958). Professional background: Lawyer, Harvard law professor. Immediate past position: Dean of Harvard Law School. Read more…

Nathan Pusey

Nathan Marsh Pusey

Term of office: 1953-1971 (1907-2001).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1928), Harvard University (A.M. 1932; Ph.D. 1937). Professional background: College president. Immediate past position: President of Lawrence College, Appleton, Wis. Read more…

James Conant

James Bryant Conant

Term of office: 1933-1953 (1893-1978).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1913, as a member of the Class of 1914), Harvard University (Ph.D. 1916). Professional background: Chemist. Immediate past position: Sheldon Emery Professor of Organic Chemistry (Harvard). Read more…

Abbot Lowell

A(bbott) Lawrence Lowell

Term of office: 1909-1933 (1856-1943).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1877), Harvard Law School (LL.B. 1880). Professional background: Harvard government professor. Immediate past position: Eaton Professor of the Science of Government. Read more…

Charles Eliot

Charles William Eliot

Term of office: 1869-1909, longest presidency in Harvard history (1834-1926).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1853; A.M. 1856). Professional background: Chemist. Immediate past position: Professor of Analytical Chemistry (M.I.T.). Read more…

Thomas Hill

Thomas Hill

Term of office: 1862-1868 (1818- 1891).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1843; A.M. 1846), Harvard Divinity School (completed studies, 1845; HDS did not grant degrees at this time). Professional background: Clergyman, mathematician, educator. Immediate past position: President of Antioch College, Ohio. Read more…

Cornelius Felton

Cornelius Conway Felton

Term of office: 1860-1862, died in office on Feb. 26 (1807-1862).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1827; A.M. 1830). Professional background: Educator (with service on the Massachusetts Board of Education, as Regent of the Smithsonian Institution, and as president of a Boston physical-education society). Immediate past position: Eliot Professor of Greek Literature (Harvard). Read more…

James Walker

James Walker

Term of office: 1853-1860 (1794-1874).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1814; A.M. 1817), Harvard Divinity School (studies, 1817; HDS did not grant degrees at this time). Professional background: Harvard professor. Immediate past position: Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity (Harvard). Read more…

Jared Sparks

Jared Sparks

Term of office: 1849-1853 (1789-1866).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1815; A.M. 1818), Harvard Divinity School (studies, 1818; HDS did not grant degrees at this time). Professional background: Clergyman, historian. Immediate past position: McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History (est. and first held [by Sparks] in 1838, Harvard). Read more…

Edward Everette

Edward Everett

Term of office: 1846-1849 (1794-1865).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1811; A.M. 1814); University of Göttingen, Germany (Ph.D. 1817) Professional background: Clergyman, orator, government official (with service in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Massachusetts governorship). Immediate past position: U.S. Minister to Great Britain. Read more…

Josiah Quincy

Josiah Quincy

Term of office: 1829-1845 (1772- 1864).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1790; A.M. 1793). Professional background: Lawyer (with service in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Massachusetts Senate). Immediate past position: Mayor of Boston. Read more…

John Kirkland

John Thornton Kirkland

Term of office: 1810-1828 (1770-1840).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1789; A.M. 1792). Professional background: Clergyman. Immediate past position: (Probably) Pastor of New South Church, Boston, Mass. Read more…

Samuel Webber

Samuel Webber

Term of office: 1806-1810, died in office on July 17 (1759-1810).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1784; A.M. 1787). Professional background: Clergyman. Immediate past position: Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy (Harvard). Read more…

Joseph Willard

Joseph Willard

Term of office: 1781-1804, died in office on Sept. 25 (1738-1804).

Education: Harvard College (A.B., 1765; A.M. 1768). Professional background: Clergyman. Immediate past positions: Pastor of the First Parish, Beverly, Mass.; first corresponding secretary (1780) of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Read more…

Samuel Langdon

Samuel Langdon

Term of office: 1774-1780 (1723-1797).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1740; A.M. 1743). Professional background: Clergyman. Immediate past position: Pastor in Portsmouth, N.H. Read more…

Samuel Locke

Samuel Locke

Term of office: 1770-1773 (1732-1778).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1755; A.M. 1758). Professional background: Clergyman. Immediate past position: Pastor in Sherborn, Mass. Read more…

Edward Holyoke

Edward Holyoke

Term of office: 1737-1769, died in office on June 1, not long before his 80th birthday, making him the oldest to serve as Harvard President (1689-1769).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1705; A.M. 1708). Professional background: Clergyman. Immediate past position: Pastor to a church in Marblehead, Mass. Read more…

Benjamin Wadsworth

Benjamin Wadsworth

Term of office: 1725-1737, died in office on March 27 (1670-1737).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1690; A.M. 1693). Professional background: Clergyman. Read more…

John Leverett

John Leverett

Term of office: 1708-1724, died in office on May 14 (1662-1724).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1680; A.M. 1683). Professional background: Lawyer, judge, legislator, provincial envoy. Immediate past position: Provincial Councilor, Eastern. Read more…

Increase Mather

Increase Mather

Terms of office: Acting President, 1685-1686; Rector (a unique title), 1686-1692; President, 1692-1701 (1639-1723).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1656); Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland (A.M. 1658). Professional background: Pastor of North (Second) Church, Boston, Mass. Immediate past position: As above (Mather continued his Boston pastorate during his 16-year Harvard executive term). Read more…

John Rogers

John Rogers

Term of office: 1682-1684, died in office on July 12 (1630-1684).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1649; A.M. 1652). Professional background: Assisted (without ordination) his brother-in-law William Hubbard's ministry and practiced medicine (without medical training) on parishioners in Ipswich, Mass. Immediate past position: Presumably as above. Read more…

Urian Oakes

Urian Oakes

Terms of office: Acting President, 1675-1680; President, 1680-1681, died in office on Aug. 4 (ca. 1631-1681).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1649; A.M. 1652). Professional background: Ecclesiastical posts in England, grammar-school headmaster, orator. Immediate past position: Minister in Cambridge, Mass. Read more…

Hoar

Leonard Hoar

Term of office: 1672-1675, died in office on May 14 (ca. 1630-1675).

Education: Harvard College (A.B. 1650; A.M. 1653); Cambridge University, England (M.D. 1671). Professional background: Ecclesiastical posts in England, biblical scholarship. Read more…

Charles Chauncy

Charles Chauncy

Term of office: 1654-1672, died in office in February (1592-1672).

Education: Trinity College, Cambridge University (B.A. 1614; M.A. 1617; B.D. [Bachelor of Divinity] 1624). Professional background: Greek lecturer at Trinity; vicar to several English churches. Immediate past position: Minister in Scituate, Mass. Read more…

Dunster

Henry Dunster

Term of office: 1640-1654 (1609-1659).

Education: Magdalene College, Cambridge University, England (B.A. 1631; M.A. 1634). Professional background: Clergyman, educator. Immediate past position: Schoolmaster and church curate in Bury, England. Read more…