By Stacy Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Dr. Claudine Gay, the dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, becomes just the second woman to hold the post as University president in the institution’s history.
The university was founded in 1636.
Dr. Gay will take office in July 2023.
“Claudine is a remarkable leader who is profoundly devoted to sustaining and enhancing Harvard’s academic excellence, to championing both the value and the values of higher education and research, to expanding opportunity, and to strengthening Harvard as a fount of ideas and a force for good in the world,” Penny Pritzker, senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation and chair of Harvard’s presidential search committee, told the Harvard Gazette.
“As the Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences since 2018, and previously as dean of social science, Claudine has brought to her roles a rare blend of incisiveness and inclusiveness, intellectual range and strategic savvy, institutional ambition and personal humility, a respect for enduring ideals, and a talent for catalyzing change. She has a bedrock commitment to free inquiry and expression, as well as a deep appreciation for the diverse voices and views that are the lifeblood of a university community.
“As her many admirers know, Claudine consults widely; she listens attentively; she thinks rigorously and imaginatively; she invites collaboration and resists complacency; and she acts with conviction and purpose,” continued Pritzker.
“All of us on the search committee are excited by the prospect of her bringing her high aspirations and interdisciplinary outlook across the Yard from University Hall to Massachusetts Hall. We are confident Claudine will be a thoughtful, principled, and inspiring president for all of Harvard, dedicated to helping each of our individual Schools to thrive, as well as fostering creative connections among them. She is someone intent on affirming the power of curiosity-driven learning. And she is someone eager to integrate and elevate Harvard’s efforts — throughout the arts and sciences and across the professions — to address complex challenges in the wider world.”
The Gazette reported that since 2018, Gay has served as the Edgerley Family Dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), the University’s largest and most academically diverse faculty, spanning the biological and physical sciences and engineering, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts. As dean, she has guided efforts to expand student access and opportunity, spur excellence and innovation in teaching and research, enhance aspects of academic culture, and bring new emphasis and energy to areas such as quantum science and engineering; climate change; ethnicity, indigeneity, and migration; and the humanities. She has successfully led FAS through the COVID pandemic, consistently and effectively prioritizing the dual goals of safeguarding community health and sustaining academic continuity and progress.
The disruptive effects of the crisis notwithstanding, the school newspaper reported that she has also launched and led an ambitious, inclusive, and faculty-driven strategic planning process, intended to take a fresh look at fundamental aspects of academic structures, resources, and operations in FAS and to advance academic excellence in the years ahead.
“I am humbled by the confidence that the governing boards have placed in me and by the prospect of succeeding President Bacow in leading this remarkable institution,” Gay stated.
“It has been a privilege to work with Larry over the last five years. He has shown me that leadership isn’t about one person. It’s about all of us, moving forward together, and that’s a lesson I take with me into this next journey.”