Harvard University announced Thursday (Dec. 15) that its 30th president will be Claudine Gay. This hiring makes her the first Black person and the second woman to lead the Ivy League school.
Gay, 52, currently serves as the university’s dean of the faculty of arts and sciences and will officially take office on July 1, 2023. She will replace Lawrence Bacow, who is stepping down at the end of this academic year to acquire more family time.
Harvard introduced the president-elect during an on-campus press conference in the Smith Campus Center.
“I am absolutely humbled by the confidence that the governing board has placed in me,” said Gay at the press conference.
During her remarks, Gay focused on the challenges and changes we face in modern-day society, including social, political, economic and technological, noting that “fundamental assumptions about how the world works and how we should relate to one another are being tested.”
“There’s less trust in institutions of all kinds and a shift on how people view them,” she said. “There’s endless access to information, but it’s actually getting hard to know what to believe. They’re new ways for people to speak their truths regardless of whether they hold positions of power. Then there’s a restlessness in this new generation to constantly push for something better, motivated by the belief that change is both necessary and possible, particularly when we take problems on together.”
Gay, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, is considered a preeminent voice regarding the issue of American political participation. She is also the founding chair of Harvard’s Inequality in America Initiative, which studies issues like the effects of child poverty and deprivation on educational opportunity and American inequality from a global perspective.
In a statement released by the school, Harvard’s chair of the search committee, Penny Pritzker, spoke highly of Gay’s personal and professional qualifications.
“Claudine is a remarkable leader who is profoundly devoted to sustaining and enhancing Harvard’s academic excellence,” said Pritzker, who also serves as the senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation. “For all her professional accomplishments, even more impressive are Claudine’s personal qualities — her quality and clarity of mind, her broad curiosity about fields beyond her own, her integrity and fair-mindedness, and her dedication to creating opportunities for others. She will be a great Harvard president in no small part because she is such a good person.”