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Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

A few weeks ago, I delivered my last Baccalaureate Address. Many of the members of the Harvard College Class of 2023 were, not surprisingly, anxious about their futures. To reassure them, I shared my own observation that most of our careers are the product of both fortuitous accidents and unexpected opportunities. They are only understandable in retrospect. On the day you retire, you can finally say, “That was my career, and it all makes sense.” 

Well, today is the day I retire. Looking back over the course of my career, I now understand the unpredictable events that gave me the opportunity to lead this extraordinary institution. Many of these events occurred long ago, but it is easy to remember those that happened more recently, as well as the people who played a part in inspiring and motivating me. At every turn, someone saw in me what I did not see in myself; someone helped me understand places like this in ways that I had not understood them before; someone taught me that no one gets anywhere of consequence alone. And, perhaps most importantly, I came to appreciate that leadership is a team sport.

If you are reading this message, please know that you are one of the many individuals I consider my teammates. Through your hard work and dedication to our mission, you continue to help Harvard be the best it can be. Because of your ambitions and accomplishments, you help to ensure that Harvard’s role in the world is always earned and never assumed. Together, we navigated both challenges and opportunities. And, through it all, you gave me confidence that we would successfully find our way through our most difficult times.

Thank you for making these last five years the most interesting and satisfying of my career. I will always be grateful for the twists and turns that gave me the opportunity to be your president. I will carry fond memories of our time together for the rest of my life. May you be as fortunate as I have been to experience fortuitous accidents that will take you places that you never could have imagined. 

All the best,