It was a festive farewell.
Drew Faust said goodbye as Harvard’s president Thursday as members of the University community celebrated her 11 years as leader with humorous and heartfelt tributes and moving musical performances in Sanders Theatre, and dancing that stretched into the evening at Annenberg Hall.
Faust became the University’s 28th president in 2007, the first woman to hold that job. Yet the Virginia native, historian, professor, and founding dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study was quick to tell those gathered at her opening press conference that she was “not the woman president of Harvard; I’m the president of Harvard.”
Thursday’s party bookended the celebration of her inauguration on Oct. 11, 2007, which also was in Sanders Theatre, and which included musical tributes from students, alumni, and professors, as well as a humorous video introduced by actor John Lithgow ’67 titled “A Primer for a President.” On Thursday, several guests looked back to rate Faust on her years in Massachusetts Hall, offering grades in a number of “presidential” lessons. Unsurprisingly, she aced them all.
Lithgow, the afternoon’s master of ceremonies, kicked off the tribute with archival photos of Faust, and asked the faculty present to stand as he called for a voice vote to “celebrate and commend Drew Faust for a job well done.” The faculty gave a resounding “aye.”
“Achieving faculty consensus is an art,” quipped Lithgow, who gave Faust an A for “Lesson One: Take control of faculty meetings.”