New Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Cambridge, Mass.

Dear Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Community,
 
I write with some happy midsummer news: Claudine Gay will become the next Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, starting August 15.
 
Claudine is an eminent political scientist, an admired teacher and mentor, and an experienced leader with a talent for collaboration and a passion for academic excellence. As the FAS Dean of Social Science since 2015, she has skillfully overseen an array of distinguished departments and centers. As the Wilbur A. Cowett Professor of Government and of African and African American Studies, she is a scholar of uncommon creativity and rigor, who studies how people’s political behavior is shaped by social, political, and economic environments. As founding chair of Harvard’s Inequality in America Initiative, she has emerged as a leader in efforts to address complex social problems through insights that bridge disciplines. As the Government Department’s former director of graduate studies and as a past member of the Committee on General Education, she has invested herself in improving both undergraduate and graduate teaching and learning. As a member of both the FAS’s Academic Planning Group and its Committee on Appointments and Promotions, she has a strong working knowledge of the opportunities and challenges facing the FAS—not just within the social sciences, but across the arts and humanities, the sciences, and engineering as well. 
 
Claudine’s human qualities are as impressive as her resume. She inspires trust. She is broadly curious and eager to engage with new ideas and diverse views. She listens intently and speaks incisively. She relates to people with warmth and ease. She is committed to free expression and robust dialogue across lines of difference and to inclusion as a pillar of Harvard’s strength. She radiates a concern for others—and for how what we do here can help improve lives far beyond our walls. She is someone who elevates every conversation she is part of, and I very much look forward to working closely with her and welcoming her to the university’s senior leadership team. I am confident she will lead the FAS with the vitality and the values that characterize universities at their best. 
 
Especially as I start my first year in the president’s office, I am grateful to all of you who took time during the search to educate me about the FAS, which is so central to Harvard’s identity and aspirations. Provost Alan Garber and I owe special thanks to the faculty advisory committee for the search, whose insights about both issues and nominees were invaluable. And we renew our gratitude to Dean Mike Smith, who has led the FAS for eleven years with a constant devotion to the strength of its programs and the well-being of its people.
 
Meanwhile, I know Dean Gay will benefit from your ideas, your counsel, and your support as she gets ready to move to the second floor of University Hall. Thanks to each of you for your efforts to help the FAS and Harvard achieve our highest aims. And thanks for helping both a new dean and a new president get acclimated to our new roles, at such a pivotal time for higher education.
 
All the best,
Larry Bacow
 
P.S. For more information, please see the related news release.