Claudine Gay has been named Harvard University’s 30th president, the school announced Thursday. Gay, who has served as dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences since 2018, is the first Black person and only the second woman to be named president of the university.
Gay, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, graduated from Stanford before earning her Ph.D. in government from Harvard in 1998, where she won the Toppan Prize for best dissertation in political science, the Harvard Gazette reports.
“As a woman of color, as a daughter of immigrants, if my presence in this role affirms someone’s sense of belonging at Harvard, that is a great honor,” Gay said in an online video posted by the university.
“For those who are beyond our gates, if this prompts them to look anew at Harvard, to consider new possibilities for themselves and their futures, then my appointment will have meaning for me that goes beyond words,” she added.
Gay was elected to the presidency by the Harvard Corporation, the university’s main governing board. She will take over for current Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow, who announced his retirement in June after five years. His predecessor, historian Drew Gilpin Faust, was the first woman to serve as president of Harvard since its inception in 1636.
“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 in the Harvard Gazette.
“It has been a privilege to work with Larry over the last five years,” Gay said. “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.”
“As I start my tenure, there’s so much more for me to discover about this institution that I love. And I’m looking forward to doing just that with our whole community,” Gay added.
Her election as president concludes a lengthy search that began after Bacow announced his retirement.
“Claudine is a person of bedrock integrity,” Bacow said in a statement. “She will provide Harvard with the strong moral compass necessary to lead this great university. The search committee has made an inspired choice for our 30th president. Under Claudine Gay’s leadership, Harvard’s future is very bright.”
Gay will take office in July 2023.