In the early history of the Collegiate School, later to be named Yale College, the head of the school was called a Rector, beginning with Reverend Abraham Pierson in 1701. The next four leaders of Yale would continue to be called Rector, and each was selected to lead teaching.
In 1745, after drafting a charter to rename the school Yale College, Rector Thomas Clap became the first leader of Yale to be called a President. The document was patterned after those of Cambridge and Oxford, and voted into being by the General Assembly of Connecticut. The Rector was given increased powers and called President; the trustees were to be called Fellows.
Since then, the President of Yale has become a key part of the Yale Corporation and the leader of the University.