Dec 15, 2022 - Economy

Claudine Gay to lead Harvard as its first Black president

Claudine Gay speaks to the crowd after being named Harvard University's next president. Photo; Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Harvard announced Thursday that Claudine Gay will serve as its next president, effective July 1.

Driving the news: The appointment means one of the most powerful institutions of higher education in the United States will have a Black president for the first time in its history. She will be only the second woman to lead the Ivy League school.

  • Gay, a social scientist and democracy scholar who currently serves as dean of Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, will replace Lawrence Bacow, who is stepping down to spend more time with family.

What they're saying: "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 a statement.

  • "Harvard has a long history of rising to meet new challenges, of converting the energy of our time into forces of renewal and reinvention," she added. "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."
  • "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," said Penny Pritzker, chair of Harvard’s presidential search committee.

The big picture: Gay, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, joined the college as a professor of government in 2007.

  • The founding chair of Harvard's Inequality in America Institute, she is considered a leading voice on political participation in the U.S., AP notes.
  • Gay also worked to expand access to Harvard by bolstering its financial aid programs.
  • She has been involved in the implementation of recommendations from the Presidential Committee on Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery and will start her tenure as the Supreme Court considers the college's case for race-conscious admissions.
Go deeper