Campus & Community

Faust inauguration takes shape

3 min read

Two-day ceremony to reflect old, new

The inauguration of Drew Faust as Harvard’s 28th president will feature time-honored tradition — ancient artifacts and silver — world music, and talk of tomorrow’s promise.

Preparations are nearing completion for the two-day event, which will kick off on Oct. 11 and conclude after the official installation ceremony on the steps of the Memorial Church in Tercentenary Theatre the afternoon of Oct. 12.

Representatives of Harvard’s two governing boards, the Corporation and the Board of Overseers, are inviting the entire Harvard community to the installation, asking department heads to be flexible with work schedules and to allow staff to attend while ensuring departmental functions continue.

“These festivities will provide us the opportunity to welcome to the presidency a superb scholar, teacher, and academic leader and to hear her thoughts as she and Harvard look forward,” Corporation Senior Fellow James R. Houghton and Board of Overseers President Frances D. Fergusson wrote in a letter to members of the Harvard community. “They will also give all of us the occasion to join together in affirming our collective commitment to the ideals of learning and Harvard’s high aspirations for the time ahead.”

University Marshal Jackie O’Neill said Faust’s inauguration will combine ancient tradition and more modern touches that reflect the University’s new president.

As with previous inaugurations, Faust’s will feature items and artifacts from Harvard’s past that are only brought out during highly ceremonial occasions, including antique silver, ceremonial keys, the University’s original charter, and the book containing the first sketches of the Veritas seal.

The inauguration will feature more than ceremony, however. Academic symposia will bring an intellectual tone to the proceedings. The five symposia on Oct. 12 will examine the arts, health, war, justice, and science and engineering.

On Oct. 11 in the Memorial Church, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison will give a reading. At Sanders Theatre that evening, guests will enjoy a musical prelude hosted by actor and alumnus John Lithgow and Harvard alumni who have gone on to careers in the arts.

A thanksgiving service in the Memorial Church, to which all members of the Harvard community are also invited, will begin inauguration day’s events at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 12, followed by the symposia and lunch. The official installation ceremony will begin with robing for faculty and delegates at 1:30 p.m. in Boylston Hall followed by the academic procession into Tercentenary Theatre at 2 p.m. More than 220 delegates from colleges, universities and learned societies across the globe are expected to participate. The installation ceremony itself, including a speech by Faust, is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.

The event will feature greetings from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick on behalf of the Commonwealth, Pforzheimer University Professor Emeritus Sidney Verba on behalf of the faculty, Harvard Undergraduate Council President Ryan Petersen on behalf of the students, Harvard Alumni Association Associate Director Beverly Sullivan on behalf of the staff, University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann on behalf of higher education, and prominent historian John Hope Franklin on behalf of Faust’s academic discipline.

While the installation service is open to the entire Harvard community, because of space constraints, other events will be ticketed.

To help commemorate the occasion, the Harvard Archives is putting on a display of presidential memorabilia, featuring items from each of Faust’s predecessors. The display will be viewable in the archives, just off Tercentenary Theatre, on Oct. 11 and 12.

The Fogg Art Museum is also mounting an exhibit of Kara Walker’s Civil War-era art in honor of President Faust, a Civil War historian.