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Looking forward

Cambridge, Mass.

Dear Colleagues,

Eleven years ago, on July 1, 2007, Adele and I had Drew and Charles over to our home for dinner at Tufts to welcome them as Harvard’s first couple. It was Drew’s first day as president. We had a wonderful time together discussing the joys and challenges of leading a research university. It was the start of a great friendship.

When Drew announced she would be stepping down, Adele and I again invited her and Charles for dinner on July 1, 2018, this time to celebrate Drew’s terrific run as Harvard’s president. It seemed a fitting bookend to her tenure and a great way to welcome them back to civilian life. While I can’t say for sure whether they enjoyed my grilled salmon, I know we all had lots of fun toasting Drew’s leadership. 

But when we first set the date for our dinner, none of us imagined that we would be marking another occasion—not just the last day of Drew’s presidency but the first day of mine.

I am honored to succeed Drew and humbled to have the chance to lead this extraordinary institution. I am one of countless people whose lives have been transformed by Harvard, and helping extend that experience to others is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Every one of us who works here plays a role in advancing our academic mission. Collectively, we all help to educate new students and create new knowledge—whether we teach classes or work in a lab, shelve books in the library or maintain our beautiful grounds. Since my appointment was announced on February 11, I have come to know many of you. Thank you for welcoming me so warmly and for helping to prepare me for my new responsibilities. There’s nothing quite as invigorating as being a Harvard student again.

I have moved into my temporary office at Loeb House while Mass Hall is under renovation. If you see me around campus this summer, please come up and say hello. I want to meet as many of you as possible. 

We live in unusually challenging times—for Harvard and higher education, for the nation and the world. There is no place I would rather be, and no community I would rather be part of, to help address the challenges ahead and to consider how we can each do our part to meet them. Thank you for the privilege of joining you on this journey. And thank you for all that each of you contributes to helping Harvard serve our world.

All the best,