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The leading Boston divine Increase Mather served as president from 1685 to 1701.

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The popularity of Agassiz's efforts to "soar with Plato" probably also derived from other writings to which Harvard students were exposed, including Platonic treatises by Ralph Cudworth, John Norris and, in a Romantic vein, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

The library records at Harvard reveal that the writings of Plato and his early modern and Romantic followers were almost as regularly read during the 19th century as those of the "official philosophy" of the more empirical and more deistic Scottish school. Eliot, president 1869–1909, eliminated the favored position of Christianity from the curriculum while opening it to student self-direction.

The university is organized into eleven separate academic units—ten faculties and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study—with campuses throughout the Boston metropolitan area: its 209-acre (85 ha) main campus is centered on Harvard Yard in Cambridge, approximately 3 miles (5 km) northwest of Boston; the business school and athletics facilities, including Harvard Stadium, are located across the Charles River in the Allston neighborhood of Boston and the medical, dental, and public health schools are in the Longwood Medical Area.

It operates several arts, cultural, and scientific museums, alongside the Harvard Library, which is the world's largest academic and private library system, comprising 79 individual libraries with over 18 million volumes.

Throughout the 18th century, Enlightenment ideas of the power of reason and free will became widespread among Congregational ministers, putting those ministers and their congregations in tension with more traditionalist, Calvinist parties.

When the Hollis Professor of Divinity David Tappan died in 1803 and the president of Harvard Joseph Willard died a year later, in 1804, a struggle broke out over their replacements.Additionally, the THE World Reputation Rankings have consecutively ranked Harvard as the top institution among the world's "six super brand" universities, the others being Berkeley, Cambridge, MIT, Oxford and Stanford.The charter creating the Harvard Corporation was granted in 1650.The changes to the policy at Harvard come about a year after the Department of Education announced the university was among several being investigated for their responses to reports of sexual abuse and harassment.Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts.While Eliot was the most crucial figure in the secularization of American higher education, he was motivated not by a desire to secularize education, but by Transcendentalist Unitarian convictions.

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