A Message from the President: David Ellwood

Cambridge, Mass.

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

As he announced today, David Ellwood has decided to step down next summer as dean of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, after eleven years of outstanding leadership.

From the outset of his deanship, David has embodied and amplified the spirit of service that infuses the School he leads.  With his guidance and initiative, the School has opened its doors ever wider to public-minded students of talent and promise, through increasingly robust financial aid.  It has embraced an expansive international agenda, while also bringing focus to important policy questions facing U.S. cities, states, and the federal government.  It has reinvented aspects of its degree programs through redesigned curricula and innovative teaching, while expanding its range of executive education programs to better educate not only tomorrow’s leaders but today’s.  It has creatively used its convening power to stimulate discussions with leading policy makers and scholars from near and far about vital questions facing the world.  It has nimbly navigated higher education’s changed economic landscape and strengthened its financial foundations through impressive success so far in the Harvard Campaign.  Drawing on such support, it has now embarked on a major project to assure that the School’s physical setting can give full scope to its academic ambitions.  And, throughout, the School has played an integral part in efforts to connect Harvard’s schools in novel and productive ways.

Recognizing some of the Harvard Kennedy School’s advances during David’s deanship conveys only part of what he has meant to the School, to the University, and to me.  As the longest serving of Harvard’s current deans, David has emerged as a dean among deans, bringing an always thoughtful and nuanced perspective to hard institutional questions.  As a scholar and teacher with decades of devotion to Harvard and to public service, he has modeled a commitment to academic work that vigorously engages with policy and practice.  As a citizen of the University, he has sought out ways to link people and programs across conventional bounds, seeing the benefits not only for his School but for Harvard as a whole.  And, as a colleague and friend, he has been an enduring source of valued counsel, incisive questions, and constructive ideas. 

David will return to regular service on the faculty following a well-deserved sabbatical in 2015-16. I will soon begin a search for his successor and will have more information in the time ahead about the search process.   For now, if you have thoughts on the School and its future directions, on key qualities to seek in a new dean, or on individuals worthy of consideration, please feel free to write to me, in confidence, at [email protected].

I hope you will join me in saluting David Ellwood for his remarkable record as dean—and in working with him to make the final academic year of his deanship a fitting capstone for all that the Harvard Kennedy School has achieved under his leadership.


Drew Faust

P.S. For more on today’s news, please see Dean Ellwood’s message as well as the related news story and Q&A.