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Dean Mike Smith

Cambridge, Mass.

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,
In light of his announcement earlier today, I write to express my gratitude for Mike Smith’s extraordinary leadership and service as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS).  Mike has guided the FAS through more than a decade of remarkable challenge and change, and all of us owe him our profound thanks.
Mike assumed his role as dean in July 2007, on the same day I took up my duties in Massachusetts Hall.  For nearly eleven years now, he has been a steadfast partner, an enthusiastic collaborator, and an institutional citizen always focused on the progress of the FAS and the University.  He has approached all he does with a keen intelligence, a humane concern for others, a bedrock sense of integrity and fairness, a deep appreciation for the growing diversity of our community, and a paramount devotion to educational and scholarly excellence.  He has been willing to make hard choices, to challenge conventions and embrace new ways of doing things, and to focus at once both on immediate challenges and on long-range concerns.  He has done so with the devotion of a lifelong educator, the ingenuity of an engineer, the stamina of a distance swimmer, and the spirit of an entrepreneur.
Under Mike’s leadership, the FAS faculty has grown in breadth and strength, and both the College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences have attracted students of unsurpassed talent and promise.  The FAS has elevated its commitment to innovation in teaching and learning, while continuing to shape the leading edge of scholarship in disciplines both traditional and new.  The doors of the FAS have opened wider; internal boundaries have become more permeable; the tenure track has become a reality; active learning has flourished; student residential life has been enriched; and novel academic initiatives have taken root across the arts and sciences, thanks to new resources and careful financial stewardship.  Mike is not the sort of person to claim credit for any of this.  Which is all the more reason to emphasize how much his thoughtful, steady, forward-looking leadership has meant to the Faculty at the heart of Harvard. 
President-elect Larry Bacow will lead the search for the next dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, as he prepares to assume his own new role on July 1.  He has asked me to underscore that he sees the search not only as a way to identify a new dean, but also as a timely opportunity to learn more from many of you about the hopes and views of faculty, students, staff, and alumni throughout the FAS.  I expect he will have more to say in the time ahead about aspects of the search.  Meanwhile, if you have advice you wish to share with him on the opportunities and challenges ahead for the FAS, or on the deanship in particular, you may send him your thoughts in confidence by email to
For today, please join both Larry and me in saluting Mike Smith for his outstanding service as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.  His passion for education has made Harvard stronger and better.
Drew Faust 
P.S.  For more, please see the related Gazette coverage.