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Statement from the Harvard Corporation: President Gay

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

With great sadness, we write in light of President Claudine Gay’s message announcing her intention to step down from the presidency and resume her faculty position at Harvard.

First and foremost, we thank President Gay for her deep and unwavering commitment to Harvard and to the pursuit of academic excellence. Throughout her long and distinguished leadership as Dean of Social Science then as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences – where she skillfully led the FAS through the COVID-19 pandemic and pursued ambitious new academic initiatives in areas such as quantum science and inequality – she demonstrated the insight, decisiveness, and empathy that are her hallmark. She believes passionately in Harvard’s mission of education and research, and she cares profoundly about the people whose talents, ideas, and energy drive Harvard. She has devoted her career to an institution whose ideals and priorities she has worked tirelessly to advance, and we are grateful for the extraordinary contributions she has made – and will continue to make – as a leader, a teacher, a scholar, a mentor, and an inspiration to many.

We are also grateful to Alan M. Garber, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, who has served with distinction in that role for the past twelve years – and who has agreed to serve as Interim President until a new leader for Harvard is identified and takes office. An economist and a physician, he is a distinguished and wide-ranging scholar with appointments at Harvard Medical School, Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. We are fortunate to have someone of Alan’s broad and deep experience, incisive judgment, collaborative style, and extraordinary institutional knowledge to carry forward key priorities and to guide   the university through this interim period.

These past several months have seen Harvard and higher education face a series of sustained and unprecedented challenges. In the face of escalating controversy and conflict, President Gay and the Fellows have sought to be guided by the best interests of the institution whose future progress and well-being we are together committed to uphold. Her own message conveying her intention to step down eloquently underscores what those who have worked with her have long known – her commitment to the institution and its mission is deep and selfless. It is with that overarching consideration in mind that we have accepted her resignation.

We do so with sorrow. While President Gay has acknowledged missteps and has taken responsibility for them, it is also true that she has shown remarkable resilience in the face of deeply personal and sustained attacks. While some of this has played out in the public domain, much of it has taken the form of repugnant and in some cases racist vitriol directed at her through disgraceful emails and phone calls. We condemn such attacks in the strongest possible terms.

The search for a new president of the university will begin in due course. We will be in further touch about the process, which will include broad engagement and consultation with the Harvard community in the time ahead.

For today, we close by reiterating our gratitude to President Gay for her devoted service to Harvard, as well as to Provost Garber for his willingness to lead the university through the interim period to come. We also extend our thanks to all of you for your continuing commitment to Harvard’s vital educational and research mission – and to core values of excellence, inclusiveness, and free inquiry and expression. At a time when strife and division are so prevalent in our nation and our world, embracing and advancing that mission – in a spirit of common purpose — has never been more important. We live in difficult and troubling times, and formidable challenges lie ahead. May our community, with its long history of rising through change and through storm, find new ways to meet those challenges together, and to affirm Harvard’s commitment to generating knowledge, pursuing truth, and contributing through scholarship and education to a better world.

The Fellows of Harvard College
Penny Pritzker, Senior Fellow
Timothy R. Barakett, Treasurer
Kenneth I. Chenault
Mariano-Florentino (Tino) Cuéllar
Paul J. Finnegan
Biddy Martin
Karen Gordon Mills
Diana L. Nelson
Tracy P. Palandjian
Shirley M. Tilghman
Theodore V. Wells, Jr.