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Reaffirming Our Commitments

To the Harvard University Community,

In the United States and around the world, this year has brought immense challenges and heartache—with a pandemic causing disruption and deaths; horrifying examples of deeply rooted racism; violent conflicts between and within nations; threats to freedom; inequalities of economic opportunity and outcomes; alarming signs of climate change; growing worries about the health of democracies in the face of heightened political polarization; and more.

For many people, the U.S. election has brought the trials and tragedies of this year into even sharper focus. All of us who have an opportunity to vote in a well-functioning democracy can use that opportunity to help address the problems we see in the world. As this U.S. election period draws toward its close, we write to restate our encouragement to all eligible members of the Harvard community—regardless of political affiliation or ideology—to vote next week.

We write, too, to reaffirm the values that bind us together as a community.

We are committed to a just Harvard and a just world where all people’s rights and dignity are respected and honored. No one should be harmed or denied an equal opportunity to thrive because of their race, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or religion. Our commitment reflects the moral responsibility that everyone owes to one another and recognizes that true excellence and human flourishing are possible only by fully including people of all backgrounds and lived experiences.

We are committed to free and honest inquiry in the unfettered pursuit of truth. Such inquiry, which is the fundamental basis for learning and action at Harvard and in the broader society, requires reasoned dialogue and a respect for knowledge, evidence, and expertise. We encourage everyone to develop their views with care and humility and to listen generously to those with different perspectives, so that ideas can be tested and differences can be a source of progress.

We are committed to practices and institutions that enhance the common good by enabling people to act effectively together and leaders to hear and respond to public needs. The success of democracy in the United States depends on the right to vote, a free and independent press, checks and balances, the peaceful transfer of power, and the rule of law with equal justice for all. We think it vital to support and adhere scrupulously to those norms, especially in times of division and stress.

The teaching, research, and outreach of Harvard—and other universities—serve the societies we belong to. We are grateful to be part of the Harvard community and to be able to work together with all of you to advance these crucial commitments.


Lawrence S. Bacow
President, Harvard University

Tomiko Brown-Nagin
Dean, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
George Q. Daley
Dean, Harvard Medical School
Emma Dench
Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Francis J. Doyle III
Dean, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Douglas Elmendorf
Dean, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Alan M. Garber
Provost, Harvard University

Claudine Gay
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences

William V. Giannobile
Dean, Harvard School of Dental Medicine

David N. Hempton
Dean, Harvard Divinity School
Rakesh Khurana
Dean, Harvard College

Bridget Terry Long
Dean, Harvard Graduate School of Education
John F. Manning
Dean, Harvard Law School
Nitin Nohria
Dean, Harvard Business School

Sarah M. Whiting
Dean, Graduate School of Design

Michelle A. Williams
Dean, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health