Harvard is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of universities in America. Not just you thought, you could try asking your parents, and maybe even your grandparents! Harvard has been around for as long as the Taj Mahal. Established in 1636, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and one of the most prestigious universities across the world. With a history that long, there’s bound to be some great stories. So here is a compilation of 10 interesting facts about Harvard University. Keep reading, Harvard might just be your soul-school.
A history of high achievers
Harvard University holds a record number of honors and awards with 161 Nobel Laureates, 23 heads of state, and 132 Pulitzer Prize winners. Harvard has been producing quality graduates right from the second president of the USA back in 1797 – John Adams. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, Harvard had educated seven US presidents.
An empire in itself
Harvard holds real estate totalling 5,457 acres of land, the size of over 4000 football fields! But it hasn’t always been this large. Classes at Harvard began in the summer of 1638 in a single frame house and a college yard. Of the total land owned, the main university campus holds only about 4%.
92 kilometres of bookshelves
With all that land, there has got to be a couple of libraries, right? Harvard has some of the world’s most famous university libraries that boasts a collection that is the oldest in America. There are 79 libraries, the main and largest one is known as the Widener Memorial Library. It houses about 3.5 million works in over 100 languages, and 92 kilometres of shelves across ten levels. Four of the floors are underground because they needed to expand and could not go anywhere but down.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
Harvard is an Ivy League school. These schools were first known to have highly competitive athletic teams. As the teams gained more funding, the universities improved their standards of education and as a result, these schools are now an elite group that produce distinguished graduates. Ironically, Harvard actually tried banning football twice because of its violent and dangerous characteristics. However, the pressure from alumni and students have helped keep Harvard’s football legacy intact. The first stadium was completed in 1903. Their biggest rival? Another Ivy – Yale!
Easy come, easy go
Here’s an interesting story! Back in 2012, about 125 students got caught cheating on a government class exam. Harvard went on to investigate this scandal, and most of the students caught were made to withdraw from the university. Yale – the arch nemesis came up with a humorous shirt to wear during a Harvard-Yale football game, it read “Try cheating your way out of this one!” Harsh!
Law gave us crime; science gave us forensics – Mokokoma Mokhonoana
There is a gruesome murder tale set at Harvard, famously known as the Parkman-Webster murder case. Parkman, a high-profile businessman and Harvard alum lent money to Webster, a Harvard professor. Parkman visited Webster to confront him about the repayment and ended up burnt and dismembered in Webster’s laboratory. The trial of Webster was a milestone for the US legal system as it was reportedly the first case in US history where forensic anthropology has been used to prosecute the murderer. Harvard went on to embrace the field of forensics. Allegedly, there is a class at Harvard devoted to saying witty things while putting sunglasses on.
The three lies of Harvard
There are quite a few landmarks around the Harvard campus. The most famous one is known as the statue of three lies. It’s called so to account for its three inaccuracies. The sculpture states that it is of John Harvard, the founder of Harvard and that Harvard was founded in 1638. However, John Harvard was not the founder of the university, he was the first major benefactor. Also, Harvard was founded in 1636 and not 1638. What’s more? The sculpture isn’t of John Harvard at all, but that of some unknown student.
Better chances of winning the lottery
Here’s a fact that we can expect from Harvard. We all know that the process of getting into Harvard University is super rigorous and unbelievably hard. But did you know that the selection rate is just 4.6%? Meaning that for every 100 applications that Harvard receives yearly, around 95 are tossed out.
Lights! Camera! Nope!
The most prestigious university of America cannot have its students getting distracted from school now, can they? Commercial filming on university grounds is banned at Harvard and it has been a no-film zone since 1970. Movies like The Social Network (2010) and some others found a loophole; although set at Harvard they were filmed elsewhere, complying with university regulations.
Money and more money
Harvard is prestigious, its Ivy League, and it has rich and influential alumni. We are well aware that Harvard has a lot of money. But do you know just how much? Harvard has the largest academic endowment in the world, $40.9 billion (2021). The interest from this endowment alone can buy you a private island.
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