History and Purpose of the HAA
If Harvard University’s alumni population of 300,000 represents a kind of nation settled throughout the world, the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) can be viewed as an “Alumni Senate” representing the views of alumni to Harvard and Harvard’s views, needs, and policies to its constituencies. The aim of the HAA is to keep the University and its alumni linked together in mutually beneficial ways.
The HAA was previously known as the Associated Harvard Alumni. The latter was formed in 1965 as an amalgamation of the Harvard Alumni Association (1840) and the Associated Harvard Clubs (1897). The early Harvard Alumni Association was largely eastern in composition and concerned itself primarily with organizing class reunions. The Associated Harvard Clubs was predominantly midwestern and western and was concerned with keeping Harvard interests active throughout larger American cities. The merger of these two organizations made for a truly national alumni association.
Today, the HAA is the official association of all alumni of Harvard University. It is frequently described as an organization that “requires no due dates, and from which there is no escape.” Its regular members include recipients of degrees granted by the University and Radcliffe College, as well as tenured members of all Faculties of the University. Others whose names appear on the alumni records of the University and Radcliffe College, who have not received degrees, are associated members. Associated members may not vote for Overseers or Elected Directors, but may take part in all other activities of the Association.
The HAA is guided by a board of elected and appointed directors. Directors visit different areas of the University and participate in discussions with students, faculty, and administrators. Informed directors can thus provide knowledgeable leadership in interpreting Harvard alumni back home.
In addition, the HAA sponsors numerous meetings in cities across the country in conjunction with local Harvard Clubs and graduate school alumni associations. The purpose of these meetings is to bring the current story of Harvard to the community.