An unprecedented event has occurred in U.S. academia. Claudine Gay is the first black person to be named president of Harvard University in the United States.
As dean of the College of Arts and Performing Arts, she becomes the institution’s 30th president, having joined the university in 2006 as a professor of government and African studies.
In addition to being the first black person, she is the second woman to hold the position at Harvard. The first was Drew Gilpin Faust, president from 2007 to 2018. Claudine Gay will take office on July 1, 2023, replacing Lawrence Bacow, the current president who is ending his term to spend more time with his family.
She will take office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at a time when enrollment at many U.S. colleges and universities is declining as applicants increasingly weigh the benefits of higher education against the cost of high tuition.
A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Gay founded and directed the Harvard Initiative on Inequality in America.
“Ms. Gay is a dedicated teacher and mentor whose courses have covered topics such as racial and ethnic politics in the United States, black politics in the post-civil rights era, American political behavior, and democratic citizenship,” the university says in a statement.
Harvard University was founded in 1636 and is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.