History of the Presidency

Lawrence S. Bacow

Term of office: 2018-present

Lawrence S. Bacow took office as the 29th President of Harvard University on July 1, 2018. Read more…

Larry Bacow


Drew Gilpin Faust

Drew Gilpin Faust

Term of office: 2007-2018 (b. Sept. 18, 1947).

Education: Bryn Mawr College (B.A. 1968), University of Pennsylvania (M.A. 1971; Ph.D 1975). Professional background: History professor, author. Immediate past position: Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Read more…

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…