Harvard University has topped the list of American colleges that produce alumni who have gone on to become Members of Congress. The Ivy League university has 47 of its alumni serving in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Harvard has consistently ranked among the top three universities in the nation producing forty seven Nobel laureates, forty eight Pulitzer awardees and thirty two heads of state including seven American presidents. President Barack Obama is also an alumnus of Harvard Law School, joining former presidents Rutherford B. Hayes, John Quincy Adams, John Adams, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Theodore Roosevelt in what is an elite list of people who have been part of some of America’s most challenging decades. Former President George W. Bush earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School, making him the only American president to hold that qualification.
The 47 Harvard alumni who serve the country as Members of Congress make up a little less than nine percent of the combined population of the 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 senators. The poll, conducted by private research firm Find The Best, placed Harvard University at the top of a list of colleges that produce Members of Congress alumni. Georgetown University placed second, with 20 alumni on Capitol Hill and Yale was revealed to be a distant third up with 18 alumni as serving Members of Congress. The poll excluded past members and notable personalities who serve in non-political capacities.
Harvard’s influence in Congress extends to twenty four states including several key states such as Texas, California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Florida. The list of Harvard-educated Members of Congress also represents nine of the ten states with the wealthiest congressmen and congresswomen in the country. The university’s considerable influence on the nation’s political environment is further extended through the university’s Office of Federal Relations in Washington D.C. The office is responsible for lobbying for increased federal funding, student aid and communicating its stance on important policies that may affect the university and the nation.
Harvard alumnus and Congressman John P. S. Sarbanes said “It’s always useful to get some additional input on issues that matter to the University. It’s helpful to hear from people who have some understanding of what the school’s priorities are.” The university maintains cordial ties with many of its former students who hold powerful positions on Capitol Hill. Senators are often invited as keynote speakers at Harvard University events and several student-alumni interaction sessions. For many Members of Congress, visiting their alma mater serves as an opportunity to test the political atmosphere on campus and identify promising candidates for their party.
While many Members of Congress speak highly of their alma mater, some choose to veil their association with the university. Congressman Jim Cooper from the fifth congressional district of Tennessee stated that a small minority make this choice in order to prevent any adverse impact to their public image because Harvard graduates tend to be perceived as arrogant. Harvard University’s influence on the nation is evident as it is ranked at the top of a list of American colleges with alumni who are Members of Congress.
By Grace Stephen