Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Harvard University: The oldest institution of higher education in the United States

Higher education in British North America was conceived on October 28, 1636, when the Great and General Court of Massachusetts Bay agreed to give 400£ towards the establishment of a college in Cambridge.

This relatively generous appropriation triggered a train of events that led to the erection of Harvard College and its first commencement 6 years later, in 1642.

Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States. At its inception, this university's name was "New College," and its purpose was mainly to educate clergy. In 1639, the school's name became Harvard University, so named for the Rev. John Harvard. Harvard bequeathed half of his estate and his entire library to the school upon his death in 1638.

Henry Dunster arrived in August 1640. A Bachelor and Master (1634) of Magdalene College, Cambridge, who had preached and taught in England, Dunster consented to become the first president of Harvard College.

In the 1640s, under the key leadership of President Henry Dunster, Harvard was converted from an infant institution into an acceptable college, and Dunster taught most, if not the entire curriculum in his early years.

The University has grown from nine students with a single master to an enrollment of more than 20,000-degree candidates including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

In 1782, Harvard added medical studies to the school's programs. Harvard University added additional programs during the 19th century, namely law in 1816 and divinity in 1817.

Harvard’s first commencement in 1642 consecrated the initial success of Dunster’s efforts. In an impressive ceremony, the governor, magistrates, ministers and other educated citizens endured a full day of Greek and (mostly) Latin presentations. Nine students who had begun their studies under Nathaniel Eaton were awarded the first degree of bachelor of arts.
Harvard University: The oldest institution of higher education in the United States

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