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making history

Claudine Gay named Harvard University's 1st Black president

Claudine Gay will be the next president of Harvard University, and the institution's first Black leader.

Gay is now the dean of Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and will step into her new position as the school's 30th president on July 1, 2023, replacing Lawrence Bacow, Harvard announced Thursday. The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Gay is a scholar of political behavior and democracy and the founding chair of the Inequality in America Initiative.

"People are Harvard's institutional strength," Gay, 52, said in video remarks. "I want to take on this role because I believe in them and I want a Harvard that matches their ambition and promise." She also declared that "the idea of the ivory tower — that's the past, not the future of academia. We don't exist alongside society but as part of it and at Harvard, we have that duty to lean in and engage and to be of service to the world."

Harvard students were asked to share their opinions on who should serve as the university's next president. Noah Harris, a recent graduate and the first Black man elected as Harvard's student body president, told The Boston Globe he is "thrilled and encouraged" by the selection of Gay, adding that she has "her ear to the ground and is well respected. I've gotten so many texts. People are so excited."