Harvard University has announced Claudine Gay as its new president.
The dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Gay becomes the first African American to serve as the university’s leader and the second woman president in the institution’s illustrious history.
Founded in 1636, the university has graduated Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy, W.E.B Du Bois and other famous individuals and leaders.
Lawrence S. Bascow currently serves as Harvard’s 29th president. Gay will take office in July 2023, becoming the 30th president in Harvard history.
“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 said. “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.”
Penny Pritzker, chair of Harvard’s presidential search committee lauded Gay as a strong leader who will honor and continue to grow the university’s strong reputation.
“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,” Pritzker, who also serves as senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation, told the Harvard Gazette.
In her current role as Edgerly Family dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), Gay leads 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. Prior to her appointment as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 2018, Gay served 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,” Prtizker said. “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.
Beyond her experience, the senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation said there are many reasons Gay was a strong fit for this groundbreaking appointment.
“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.
Gay has been celebrated for her 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. According to the Harvard Gazette, she has successfully led the FAS through the COVID pandemic, consistently and effectively prioritizing the dual goals of safeguarding community health and sustaining academic continuity and progress.
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.
Prtizker said she and the search committee are excited about Gay’s transition to president and knows she will bring her expertise to strengthen, not only the institution, but the world at large.
“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.”