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My Plans

Dear Friends,

I write to tell you of my intention to step down on June 30, 2023, following twelve years of service as a member of the Corporation, including five years as your president. Serving in these capacities has been the privilege of a lifetime.

When I first stepped onto this campus as a graduate student in 1972, I never imagined the outsized role Harvard would play in my life. Like just about everyone who comes here, I was in awe of the place—its history, its reputation, and its impact on all of American higher education. Fifty years later, I am still in awe but for different reasons. It is you that I hold in awe—our students who inspire me with their passion to make the world a better place; our faculty and researchers who push the boundaries of knowledge in just about every field of human endeavor imaginable; our staff who over the past few years have demonstrated resilience, commitment, and dedication that is nothing short of remarkable; and our alumni who shape the world in ways too numerous to mention. I have never been prouder to be part of this University than I am today.

There is never a good time to leave a job like this one, but now seems right to me. Through our collective efforts, we have found our way through the pandemic. We have worked together to sustain Harvard through change and through storm, and collectively we have made Harvard better and stronger in countless ways. I will depart Mass Hall with many fond memories to share with my children and grandchildren, and Adele and I are looking forward to spending more time with each of them.

There will be plenty of time in the year ahead to say goodbye. We all still have lots of work to do to advance our mission of teaching, research, and service. For now, please know how much Adele and I appreciate all that each of you does for Harvard and how warmly you have embraced us both.

With appreciation,


Read more about President Bacow’s announcement in The Harvard Gazette; Read a letter to the community from William F. Lee, senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation, and Penny Pritzker, who will become senior fellow on July 1.