In a groundbreaking moment, Harvard University ushered in a new era as Claudine Gay assumed the role of President, making history as the university’s first Black leader and the second woman to hold this prestigious position.
Under a rainy Cambridge sky, Claudine Gay addressed a crowd huddled beneath umbrellas and windbreakers, expressing the weight and honor of her historic role. Harvard, founded in 1640, saw its 30th president take the stage, outlining her vision for the renowned Ivy League institution.
“I stand before you today humbled by the prospect of leading Harvard, emboldened by the trust you have placed in me, and energized by your own commitment to this singular institution and to the common cause of higher education,” she declared. “The courage of this University — our resolve, against all odds — to question the world as it is and imagine and make a better one: It is what Harvard was made to do.”
Addressing the audience on a Friday afternoon, Massachusetts Governor and Harvard graduate Maura Healey emphasized the historic nature of Gay’s presidency. “President Gay, your presidency is truly historic,” Healey said. “You have my admiration and support.”
The Harvard Corporation, the university’s principal governing board, elected Gay following an extensive search. Outgoing President Lawrence Bacow commended Gay’s unwavering integrity, asserting that she would provide Harvard with the strong moral compass needed to lead the institution. He described the search committee’s decision as inspired and predicted a bright future under Claudine Gay’s leadership.
Claudine Gay’s deep connection with Harvard dates back to 1998 when she earned her Ph.D. in government from the university. In 2006, she joined the Harvard faculty and made significant contributions to the academic community. Notably, she received the Toppan Prize for the best dissertation in political science, showcasing her scholarly excellence. Her impressive career at Harvard also included serving as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Beyond her academic achievements, Claudine Gay is a distinguished scholar in the field of political behavior. She is the founding chair of the Inequality in America Initiative, a multidisciplinary effort launched in 2017 to conduct research on social and economic inequality.
Harvard University’s inauguration of Claudine Gay marks a pivotal moment in the institution’s storied history, underlining its commitment to diversity, excellence, and innovation in higher education.