Historical information about Harvard presidents & inaugurations

Listed below are links to descriptions of inauguration ceremonies and related material for many of Harvard's presidents. The link to term of office and name for each president leads to additional sources provided by the Harvard University History of the Presidency website.


1707/8-1724 John Leverett


1725-1737 Benjamin Wadsworth


1770-1773 Samuel Locke
  • Account of Samuel Locke's inauguration, March 21, 1770. Harvard University. Corporation. College Books, 1636-1827. College Book 7, 1750-1778, pages 199-200. UAI 5.5 Box 5, Harvard University Archives.
  • “President Locke's ‘Installment’ on March 21, 1770, was the first inauguration ceremony in the meetinghouse in the Square, and the last of the colonial era. A procession, led by the students and concluded by ‘The honorable House of Representatives,’ ‘The Reverend Clergy,’ and ‘A considerable number of respectable Gentlemen,’ marched from Harvard Hall to the meetinghouse, where Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson went through the usual ceremony of presentation, ‘and the Solemnity was concluded with an Hymn and an anthem performed by the young Gentlemen of the College.’ The procession then returned in reverse order to Harvard Hall, where Governing Boards, Representatives, ‘and the other Gentlemen who had honored the solemnity with their presence,’ were entertained at dinner.” -- Samuel Eliot Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard, page 99.


1774-1780 Samuel Langdon
  • Installed as president of Harvard on Commencement Day, October 14, 1774.


1781-1804 Joseph Willard
  • "...the Reverend Joseph Willard (A.B. 1765) was chosen [as Harvard president] on September 20, 1781, and inaugurated three months later. Governor Hancock, who presided, 'in an elegant Latin Speech, congratulated the University...which he considered in some sense, the Parent as well as the Nurse of the late Happy Revolution, in this Commonwealth.’ Mr. Willard, being invested with seal, charter, keys, and records, delivered his inaugural address in Latin; and the Governor made a short reply. The president then ascended the pulpit, and announced that the University had conferred the degree of LL.D. on the Chevalier de la Luzerne, minister of Louis XVI to the United States, the Honorable Arthur Lee, Esq., and his Excellency John Adams, Esq. Elijah Paine (A.B. 1781) pronounced a Latin oration, the Revered Mr. Howard prayed, ‘and the solemnity was closed by an anthem, well performed by the young gentlemen of the University.’ The ‘Colleges’ were illuminated that evening, the lights disposed ‘in a variety of figures’ which exhibited a very pleasing and brilliant appearance.’” -- Samuel Eliot Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard, page 164.


1846-1849 Edward Everett


1849-1853 Jared Sparks


1853-1860 James Walker


1860-1862 Cornelius Conway Felton


1862-1868 Thomas Hill


1869-1909 Charles William Eliot


1909-1933 Abbott Lawrence Lowell


1933-1953 James Bryant Conant
  • "President Conant Installed [Monday October 9, 1933]." Harvard Alumni Bulletin, October 13, 1933, pages 68-69. See full text of article in PDF LINKS section below
  • Installation: James B. Conant, Oct. 9, 1933. Folder in Records of the President of Harvard University, James Bryant Conant, 1933-1955 Official Correspondence, 1933-1934. UAI 5.168 Box 4, Harvard University Archives Find it @ Archives


1953-1971 Nathan Marsh Pusey
  • [Installation of Nathan Marsh Pusey as President of Harvard, Tuesday, October 13, 1953.] Harvard Alumni Bulletin, October 24, 1953, pages 107-110. See full text of article in PDF LINKS section below
  • Records relating to the installation of Nathan Marsh Pusey as the Twenty-Fourth President of Harvard University, 1953 October 13. UAI 20.953.10  Find it @ Archives  Nathan Marsh Pusey was invested with the powers and privileges of his office at an installation ceremony on October 13, 1953 in the Faculty Room in University Hall. This collection includes a reel-to-reel audio recording and a disc recording of the occasion, transcripts of the remarks given by the president of the Harvard Board of Overseers Charles Edward Wyzanski, Jr. and Nathan M. Pusey, and notes written by Harvard historian Samuel Eliot Morison recounting the installation. Morison notes, for example, that that the 20-minute ceremony was scheduled for 3:30 “so that some of the Fellows and Overseers could catch the five o’clock train for New York.” 
  • See full text of inauguration address in PDF LINKS section below


1971-1991, 2006-2007 Derek Bok
  • "A President is installed." Harvard Alumni Bulletin, November 1, 1971, pages 10-12. See full text of article in PDF LINKS section below
  • See full text of inauguration address in PDF LINKS section below


1991-2001 Neil L. Rudenstine


2001-2006 Lawrence Summers


2007-2018 Drew Gilpin Faust