Professor Claudine Gay: Harvard Welcomes First Black Woman To Lead University

by Gee NY

Professor Claudine Gay last Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, became the first Black person and second woman to lead the prestigious Harvard University.

In her charged inaugural speech, the 30th president since Harvard University’s founding in 1640 outlined her vision for the Ivy League school.

“We embrace diversity – of backgrounds, lived experiences, and perspectives – as an institutional imperative,” she said. “When we do that, it’s not with a secret hope for calm or consensus. It’s because we believe in the value of dynamic engagement and the learning that happens when ideas and opinions collide.”

She delivered her address to an audience sheltering from rain under a sea of umbrellas.

“I stand before you today, humbled by the prospect of leading Harvard, emboldened by the trust you have placed in me and energized by your own commitment to this singular institution and to the common cause of higher education,” Gay said.

She also talked about courage, the courage of Harvard to question the world as it is and imagine and make it a better one.

“It is what Harvard was made to do,” Ms Gay said.

She also said that Harvard should celebrate diversity as a force that deepens and strengthens campus life.

The Harvard Corporation, the University’s principal governing board, elected Gay after an intensive search.

“Claudine is a person of bedrock integrity,” outgoing president Lawrence Bacow said in the Harvard Gazette. “She will provide Harvard with the strong moral compass necessary to lead this great university. The search committee has made an inspired choice for our 30th president. Under Claudine Gay’s leadership, Harvard’s future is very bright.”

Gay received her Ph.D. in government from Harvard in 1998 and joined the Harvard faculty in 2006.

She received the Toppan Prize for best dissertation in political science, according to the Harvard Gazette.

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