On Thursday (Dec. 15), the University announced the news on its official Harvard Gazette website coupled with an introductory video from Gay.
“For me, this role is about harnessing the power of ideas and supporting the people who pursue them,” She stated. “We are in a moment of rapid and accelerating change — socially, politically, in the economy… technologically. So many aspects of life are being reset.”
She added: “With the strength of this extraordinary institution behind us, we enter a moment of possibility, one that calls for deeper collaboration among faculty and students from across the University. It calls for pioneers into new areas of research, fresh thinking — not only about the problems we face, but the solutions to our greatest challenges.”
Speaking to her cultural background and challenges her family faced as Haitian immigrants, Gay added that academia is what “made everything possible” not only for her own success but her parents’ as well.
“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,” she expressed. “And 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.”
Ahead of her new esteemed position, Gay received her Ph.D. in government from Harvard in 1998, The Harvard Gazette reports. As a student, she was also awarded the Toppan Prize for best dissertation in political science from the institution. This $150 gift is given to students annually for formulating the best essay on a subject in Political Science, according to The Harvard Crimson.
For the last five years, Gay has served as Harvard’s Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Aside from being an ongoing scholar of political issues including race and politics in America, she also founded Harvard’s Inequality in America Initiative in 2017.
The initiative focuses on “advanced scholarship in areas such as the effects of child poverty and deprivation on educational opportunity, inequities in STEM education, immigration and social mobility, democratic governance, and American inequality in a global context.”
Gay follows Harvard’s 29th President Lawrence S. Bacow, who served five years in office.
“Over the last five years, Claudine and I have worked very closely together,” stated Bacow. “She is a terrific academic leader with a keen mind, great leadership and communication skills, excellent judgment, and a basic decency and kindness that will serve Harvard well. Perhaps most importantly, she commands the respect of all who know her and have worked with her.
He added: “Claudine is a person of bedrock integrity. 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.”
Starting July 2023, the New York City native will begin her tenure at the esteemed Ivy League institution.
“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 stated.
Watch Harvard’s newly appointed, first Black President Claudine Gay speak on her ambitions for the university and more above.