Meet Harvard University’s new president
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On Thursday, Harvard University announced Claudine Gay as the next president of the institution. In almost 400 years of existence, this is only the first time the highest leadership role at Harvard will be occupied by a Black person. She is also the second woman to be president, as stated by Forbes.
Although starting in a new role, Gay is very familiar with Harvard. She has studied and worked in a variety of different positions at the institution. A pioneer in the presidency now, she was also the first woman and person of color to serve as the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), in 2018 — where she made important changes.
Addressing the long-time calls for the development of an ethnic studies department, according to The Harvard Crimson; in 2022, she hired three ethnic studies professors — making strides in the improvement of ethnic scholars at the institution. She also increased scrutiny of the University’s tenure system and addressed pertinent topics surrounding it, such as sexual harassment cases of Harvard professors.
The first contact Gay had with Harvard was in 1998, when she earned a Ph.D. in Government — and received the Toppan Prize for best dissertation in political science. After spending a couple of years on the faculty at Stanford, where she went as an undergraduate student; Gay returned to Harvard in 2006 as a tenured professor in the Department of Government. In 2015, she became the Dean of the Social Sciences division.
Gay’s work and research have focused on race and politics issues in the United States. She has covered topics involving Latinos, the Black community, housing mobility, political representation and many more. In 2017, she was the founding chair of Harvard’s Inequality in America Initiative, which aims to elevate teaching and research on social and economic inequality.
She also serves on the boards of the Pew Research Center, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and Phillips Exeter Academy.
Many current and former colleagues of Gay said they are excited with the announcement and believe she is the most capable of doing amazing things. Other professors around the country are hopeful with what her selection represents: a much more diverse future.
Gay’s term as the 30th president of Harvard University will begin in July 2023, succeeding current President Lawrence S. Bacow.
If you want to learn more Gay’s career and the reactions on her selection, click here.