When a head of state or government visits the University to give a public speech or to meet with Harvard’s president, the Marshal’s Office arranges for the visitor’s national flag to fly from University Hall alongside the United States flag. Protocol dictates that the dimensions of the visitor’s national flag must be the same as those of the United States flag; in the case of University Hall, 10’ x 15’. Only countries and governments recognized by the U.S. Department of State may have their national flag flown.
The US flag at University Hall is raised and lowered every weekday, when the university is operating normally, and on certain federal holidays. When the weather forecast calls for high winds, heavy rain or snow, or other inclement weather where they safety of staff or the flag itself would be impacted, the university’s facilities and operations staff may decide not to fly the flag that day.
When the United States flag is flown at half-staff on federal property—by presidential proclamation or as a sign of national tribute—Harvard has the option to follow suit by flying the United States flag at half-staff at University Hall. The University Marshal, in consultation with the Office of Harvard’s President, will make this decision, and will notify the deans of the various schools who may also choose to act similarly. Nothing prohibits the flying of the United States flag at University Hall at half-staff as a tribute for a loss closer to home, but this is rarely done. A Dean of an individual school may also decide to honor the passing of a colleague, student, or alumnus by lowering the US flag on their own campus at half-staff in tribute.