A tradition for a century
In welcoming you to the Harvard Extension School, I do so on behalf of a hallowed Harvard tradition, one which has served the Greater Boston community for a century. It was in January 1910 that the newly elected president of Harvard, A. Lawrence Lowell, created University Extension as an initiative in what he called “systematic popular education.”
His educational vision extended beyond the gates of Harvard Yard, and he affirmed that “it would seem to be the duty of every institution of learning in this country to use its resources for the benefit of the surrounding community.” He called upon Harvard to serve “the many people in our community who have not been to college but who have the desire and the aptitude to profit by as much of a college education as, amid the work of earning their living, they are able to obtain.”
For a century now, Harvard Extension School has fulfilled this vision by serving as a distinctive academic resource to a growing local, national, and international community of adult learners. To date, we estimate that nearly half a million women and men have enrolled in our courses, and 13,000 have been awarded degrees and graduate certificates.
Each year we enroll almost 13,000 students of all ages and diverse backgrounds for our more than 600 courses, including nearly 2,000 Harvard staff members eligible for the University’s Tuition Assistance Plan. Our students represent well over 120 countries, with the internationalization of the student body increasing rapidly as our distance education offerings grow.
Our dedicated teaching faculty represents most Harvard schools, especially the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and leading educational institutions in greater Boston. They value the opportunity to teach the motivated, mature, and well-educated students who come to Harvard Extension School (75 percent of our students have bachelor’s degrees, 23 percent graduate degrees).
Similarly, the students appreciate the excellence of the faculty by assigning them top marks in their course evaluations. The tradition established by President Lowell very much applies today, as faculty are “substantially repeating for the benefit of the public courses given to students in college, under conditions which require the same amount of work and the same examinations.” In this sense, Harvard Extension School is very much a Harvard academic program.
We invite all students who feel they can benefit from our courses and programs to matriculate in this historic Harvard academic program. The scope of Harvard Extension School has changed significantly over the years, but the aims articulated by President Lowell have remained the same.
We stand ready to serve the community, be it local or global. On behalf of the Harvard Extension School faculty and staff, I extend a warm invitation for you to continue your studies with us this year.
With all good wishes,
Michael Shinagel, PhD
Dean of Continuing Education and University Extension, Senior Lecturer on English, Harvard University