Campus & Community

Harvard names Drew G. Faust as its 28th president

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Drew G. Faust, an eminent historian and outstanding academic leader who has served since 2001 as the founding dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, will become the twenty-eighth president of Harvard University, effective July 1.

An expert on the Civil War and the American South, and the leading figure in Radcliffe’s transformation from a college into one of the country’s foremost scholarly institutes, Faust was elected to the Harvard presidency today by the members of the Harvard Corporation, with the consent of the University’s Board of Overseers.

The appointment concludes a search launched in the spring of 2006, involving far-reaching consultation with faculty, students, staff, alumni, and others nationwide.

“This is a great day, and a historic day, for Harvard,” said James R. Houghton, the senior member of the Harvard Corporation and chair of the presidential search committee. “Drew Faust is an inspiring and accomplished leader, a superb scholar, a dedicated teacher, and a wonderful human being. She combines a powerful, broad-ranging intellect with a demonstrated capacity for strong leadership and a talent for stimulating people to do their best work, both individually and together. She knows Harvard and higher education, and her interests extend to the whole of the University, across the arts and sciences and the professional domains.

“Through her service as founding dean of the Radcliffe Institute, she has shown uncommon skill in designing and fulfilling a forward-looking agenda of institutional change,” said Houghton. “Through her decades as a leading faculty member at Penn and at Harvard, she has invested herself in both education and research with passion, imagination, and a devotion to the highest ideals of academic life.

“Drew wears her extraordinary accomplishments lightly,” said Houghton. “Her many admirers know her as both collaborative and decisive, both open-minded and tough-minded, both eloquent and understated, both mindful of tradition and effective in leading innovation. Her qualities will serve Harvard well as we plan ambitiously for the future – not only in the college but across the schools, not only in the sciences but across the disciplines and professions, not only in Allston but throughout our campus. We share with Drew an enthusiastic commitment to building on Harvard’s strengths, to bridging traditional boundaries, and to embracing a world full of new possibilities.”

“I am deeply grateful for the trust the governing boards have placed in me,” said Faust. “I will work with all my heart, together with people across Harvard, to reward that trust.

“I am a historian,” she said. “I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the past, and about how it shapes the future. No university in the country, perhaps the world, has as remarkable a past as Harvard’s. And our shared enterprise is to make Harvard’s future even more remarkable than its past. That will mean recognizing and building on what we already do well. It will also mean recognizing what we don’t do as well as we should, and not being content until we find ways to do better.”

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As the first dean of the Radcliffe Institute, Faust has guided the transformation of Radcliffe from a college into a wide-ranging institute for advanced study. Under her leadership, Radcliffe has emerged as one of the nation’s foremost centers of scholarly and creative enterprise, distinctive for its multidisciplinary focus and the exploration of new knowledge at the crossroads of traditional fields. In recognition of its roots in Radcliffe College, the Institute maintains a special commitment to the study of women, gender, and society. To support its mission, Faust has directed a comprehensive administrative restructuring, secured the Institute’s finances, attracted major new gifts, and undertaken an extensive renovation of Radcliffe’s historic campus.

During Faust’s deanship, Radcliffe’s flagship fellowship program has become a prized opportunity for established and emerging scholars throughout the academic world. The Institute currently receives nearly 800 applicants for approximately 50 annual positions as fellows, and more than 45 Harvard faculty members have held Radcliffe fellowships since 2001. Radcliffe also engages the broader Harvard community in a variety of ways. Working with Harvard departments, the Institute has mounted annual science conferences on such topics as tissue engineering, privacy and security technology, and computational biology. Undergraduates participate in the life of the Institute through the Research Partners Program, which pairs students with Radcliffe fellows.

“Drew Faust is a historian with her eyes on the future,” said Susan L. Graham, the Pehong Chen Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Emerita at the University of California at Berkeley, president of Harvard’s Board of Overseers for 2006-07, and a member of the presidential search committee. “As an academic, I’ve been particularly impressed with how Drew has shaped a robust role for science in building the Radcliffe Institute, while playing an active role in important activities throughout the University. As an Overseer, I’ve admired her remarkable talent for creating a sense of common enterprise, for setting ambitious goals, for fostering multidisciplinary collaboration, and for advancing the Institute’s agenda. As an alumna, I have come to know her as someone who cares deeply about enhancing the educational experience of our students and creating a sense of intellectual excitement that will continue to draw great people and great ideas to Harvard.”

Since coming to Harvard, Faust has continued to write and lecture on the history of the American South and the Civil War. Her sixth book, This Republic of Suffering, forthcoming in 2008, considers the impact of the Civil War’s enormous death toll on the lives of nineteenth-century Americans. Her fifth book, Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War (1996), was awarded the Society of American Historians’ Francis Parkman Prize, honoring the year’s best nonfiction book on an American theme.

As dean of Radcliffe, Faust has been an influential member of Harvard’s Academic Advisory Group, which brings together the president, provost, and deans to consider matters of university policy. A devoted teacher and mentor, she is currently leading an undergraduate seminar on the Civil War and Reconstruction. In the spring of 2005, she oversaw the work of Harvard’s Task Forces on Women Faculty and on Women in Science and Engineering. In 2004, she served on the Allston Task Force on Undergraduate Life.

Before coming to Harvard, Faust served for 25 years on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. She was appointed as assistant professor in the Department of American Civilization in 1976, associate professor in 1980, and full professor in 1984. She was named the Stanley Sheerr Professor of History in 1988, then served as the Annenberg Professor of History from 1989 to 2000. She chaired the Department of American Civilization for five years, and was director of the Women’s Studies Program from 1996 to 2000. She was twice honored at Penn for her distinguished teaching, in 1982 and 1996.

While at Penn, Faust served on a broad array of university committees, in such areas as academic planning and budgets, academic freedom, human resources, the university archives, and intercollegiate athletics. She was a member of Penn’s presidential search committee in 1993-94 and chaired the presidential inaugural committee in 1994. From 1988 to 1990 she chaired the President’s Committee on University Life, which addressed such issues as diversity on campus, interaction among faculty, students, and staff, and Penn’s relations with its neighboring community.

Raised in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Faust went on to attend Concord Academy in Massachusetts. She received her bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr in 1968, magna cum laude with honors in history, and her master’s degree (1971) and doctoral degree (1975) in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.

Faust has been active both as a member of nonprofit boards and in a range of professional societies. She is a trustee of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Humanities Center, and Bryn Mawr College, where she chaired the trustee committee on student life from 1998 to 2003. She also serves on the educational advisory board of the Guggenheim Foundation. She was president of the Southern Historical Association in 1999-2000, vice president of the American Historical Association from 1992 to 1996, and an executive board member of both the Organization of American Historians and the Society of American Historians from 1999 to 2002. Faust has also served on numerous editorial boards and selection committees, including the jury for the Pulitzer Prize in history in 1986, 1990, and 2004 (chair). She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Society of American Historians.

Faust is married to Charles Rosenberg, one of the nation’s leading historians of medicine and science, who is Professor of the History of Science and Ernest E. Monrad Professor in the Social Sciences at Harvard. Rosenberg’s many publications include Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849, and 1866 (1962, new edition 1987) and The Care of Strangers: The Rise of America’s Hospital System (1987). A past chair of the history of science departments at Penn and Harvard, Rosenberg has been honored with the William H. Welch Medal of the American Association for the History of Medicine and the History of Science Society’s George Sarton Medal for lifetime achievement.

Faust and Rosenberg live in Cambridge. They have two daughters, Jessica Rosenberg, a 2004 summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, and Leah Rosenberg, Faust’s stepdaughter, a scholar of Caribbean literature.

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In announcing Faust’s appointment, Houghton expressed the search committee’s thanks for the abundance of helpful advice provided to the committee during the search. “All of us are grateful to the hundreds of people, within and beyond Harvard, whose thoughtful advice greatly informed the process,” Houghton said. “We especially thank the members of our faculty and student advisory groups, who were generous with their time and who provided extremely valuable counsel in a spirit of collegiality and candor.”

“As chair of the faculty advisory group for the presidential search, and as someone who has been affiliated with Harvard through a number of decades and a number of presidents, I am delighted that Drew Faust has been selected as Harvard’s next president,” said Sidney Verba, the Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and director of the Harvard University Library. “The University inaugurated a new procedure by having an official advisory committee of members of the faculty. It provided a structured and effective opportunity for close consultation and the sharing of information and insights. Drew Faust is a perfect choice. She is an eminent scholar, someone of experience, and a wonderful person. Above all, she will provide the leadership Harvard needs in the exciting and challenging years ahead.”

Said Matthew Murray, chair of the student advisory group: “Throughout this process, the search committee showed serious interest in receiving student input. Not only did the committee appoint a student advisory group for the first time in Harvard’s history, but its members actively engaged us in an ongoing, constructive dialogue that I believe made a real difference in the search. I hear great things about Dean Faust, and the members of our group look forward to working with her and exploring the range of challenges and opportunities students see facing each school and Harvard as a whole.”

“I’m grateful to the search committee for its extensive efforts to solicit advice from a wide range of alumni during the course of the search,” said Paul J. Finnegan, president of the Harvard Alumni Association. “Drew Faust is an excellent choice, and I look forward to leading warm rounds of applause for our new president-elect at alumni events to come.”

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Houghton also expressed appreciation to Derek Bok, Harvard’s interim president since July 1, 2006, and president from 1971 to 1991. “I want to convey the entire Harvard community’s profound gratitude to Derek Bok, whose continuing strong leadership during this interim period has done so much to keep the University on a steady forward course,” Houghton said.

Bok had warm words for the president-elect: “Drew Faust is clearly one of the brightest stars in Harvard’s firmament, as a dean, a scholar, a teacher, and a leading citizen of the University. Harvard will be the fortunate beneficiary of her wisdom, her experience, her eloquence, and her exceptional talent for academic leadership. I will do all I can to assure her a smooth transition and a running start.”

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Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States and a worldwide leader in education and research. It comprises nine faculties, in the arts and sciences, business, design, divinity, education, government, law, medicine, and public health, together with the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and an array of museums, research centers, and the largest university library system in the world. The president is the chief academic and administrative officer of the University.

Said Houghton: “This is a time of promise and excitement for all of us who care about Harvard. The University is renewing its educational programs in the college and across the schools. It is pursuing new ways of transcending academic boundaries and connecting with the world. It is attracting scholars and students whose caliber is unsurpassed and whose promise is unlimited. It is planning for a historic expansion of the campus. All of us recognize that, to flourish in the future, we must never rest on our past. Drew Faust knows this especially well, as both a historian and an institution builder, and her leadership will be of great value in helping Harvard grasp the opportunities ahead.”