Harvard University is the oldest and, arguably, the most prestigious university in the United States. In 2005, the Times Higher Education Supplement and the Academic Ranking of World Universities both ranked Harvard University first among the universities of the world. In addition, the US News and World Report rankings placed Harvard at the top of the list in a tie with Princeton. Moreover, with a financial endowment of $ 25.5 billion in 2005, Harvard is considered the wealthiest university in the United States and in the world.
Located at Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard was founded in 1663, incorporated as "The President and Fellows of Harvard College." It was named Harvard College in 1639 after John Harvard, a young clergyman and the institution's first principal donor. John Harvard, a product of Emmanuel College in Cambridge, left in his will several hundred pounds and a few hundred books to the college, which formed the foundation of its college library collection. On record, the first known official reference to Harvard as a "university" rather than a college was in 1780 in the Massachusetts Constitution.
During his tenure as Harvard president from 1869 to 1909, Charles Park instituted a number of radical changes that made the university into what was then known as the modern research university. Among his reforms were elective courses, small classes and entrance examinations. Owing to its successful implementation of these reforms, Harvard served as the model that influenced the American educational system greatly, both at the college and secondary levels.
In 1999, Radcliffe College, which was originally founded as the "Harvard Annex" for women, was formally merged with Harvard University to form the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
Today, Harvard has the fourth largest library collection in the world and the largest financial endowment of any academic institution. It lists over 6,000 undergraduate and 13,000 postgraduate students as well as a staff of 2,300. Its well-known motto is "veritas" or truth. Since 1875, the official school color is crimson and that's also the name given to Harvard sports teams as well as the daily school newspaper, The Harvard Crimson Tide.