On this day June 9, 1650
The Harvard Corporation, the more powerful of the two administrative boards of Harvard, is established. It is the first legal corporation in the Americas.
The President and Fellows of Harvard College (also known as the Harvard Corporation) is the more fundamental of Harvard University’s two governing boards. (The other is the Harvard Board of Overseers.)
On 9 June 1650, at the request of President Henry Dunster, the Great and General Court of Massachusetts (i.e., the colonial legislature) issued the body’s charter, making it the oldest corporation in The Americas. In fact, due to the history of the Harvard Corporation, its set of laws is written into the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
When it was originally founded, the corporation was probably intended to be a body of the college’s resident instructors, like the fellows of an Oxbridge college. However, from an early date it instead fell into what has become the familiar American model of a governing board — an outside body, made up mostly of people not involved in Harvard’s daily life, which meets regularly to consult with the day-to-day head, the president (whom it appoints). It is self-perpetuating, selecting new members for itself whenever a vacancy opens; in recent years it has always comprised six fellows in addition to the president.
There are currently seven members of the Corporation. Their names, positions, and degrees that each received from a school of Harvard University are also shown below.
- Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard University, A.M (honorary) 2001
- James Houghton, Director and former Chairman, Corning Incorporated, A.B. 1958, M.B.A 1962
- Patricia A. King, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law, Medicine, Ethics and Public Policy at Georgetown Law Center, J.D. 1969
- Nannerl Keohane, Professor, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University
- Robert Reischauer, President, The Urban Institute, A.B. 1963
- James F. Rothenberg, President and Director, Capital Research and Management Company, A.B. 1968, M.B.A. 1970
- Robert Rubin, former Director and Chair of the Executive Committee, Citigroup, A.B. 1960; LL.D. (honorary) 2001