News Americas, BOSTON, MA, Tues. Oct. 3, 2023: Harvard University has ushered in a historic era with the appointment of its first Black, Caribbean American and Haitian American president, Claudine Gay. The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Gay, who was born in New York, is also only the second woman to helm the prestigious institution since its establishment in 1640 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In her inaugural address on Sept. 30th, Gay eloquently outlined her vision for the Ivy League institution, acknowledging the significance and honor of her groundbreaking role. Speaking at a rain-soaked inauguration ceremony last Friday, she humbly stated, “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 emphasized Harvard’s historical role as a catalyst for change, declaring, “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.”
Gay’s selection by the Harvard Corporation, the university’s principal governing body, followed an exhaustive search process. Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey, an alumna of Harvard, lauded Gay’s presidency as a “truly historic” moment and expressed her admiration and support in a speech. Gay holds a Ph.D. in government from Harvard, earned in 1998, and joined the faculty in 2006. She previously held the distinguished role of Edgerley Family Dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and is widely recognized as an expert in political behavior. Additionally, she serves as the founding chair of the Inequality in America Initiative, established in 2017 to explore issues of social and economic inequality.
Outgoing president Lawrence Bacow commended Gay as “a person of bedrock integrity,” according to CNN. Bacow also expressed confidence in Gay’s “moral compass,” which he deemed crucial for guiding the esteemed institution. He commended the search committee for their choice and envisioned a promising future under her leadership.