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. Although Harvard is today generally referred to as a university
the corporation's legal title still formally refers to "Harvard College."
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.
On 6 December 2010, the Corporation announced that, as a result of a year-long governance review, it would dramatically alter its "composition, structure, and practices."... Read More