Among the notes that poured into President Larry Bacow’s office on Monday after he appointed Claudine Gay the new Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) was an elated message from a member of the Harvard community.
“This is such a tremendous gift to the FAS,” it read. “I’m beside myself.”
Bacow read the warm wishes by way of introducing Gay to scholars and staff at a Faculty Room reception on Monday afternoon.
“I’m delighted not to be beside myself, but rather, for the foreseeable future, to be standing next to Claudine and working with her,” Bacow said.
Cheers erupted from the packed room as a “delighted” Gay, who will start in her new role Aug. 15, took the podium.
“If we hope to remain at the frontiers of knowledge, doing that is going to require acknowledging that talent takes many forms, that mentoring is integral to academic and professional success, and that people do their best work when they feel their perspectives, experiences, and contributions are valued and respected,” Gay said.
“And as an elite institution, if we are to retain the trust and faith of the broader society, including the vast majority of the world that will never experience a Harvard education, we must be engines of social mobility both within and beyond our gates.”
Mahzarin Banaji, Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics and chair of the Department of Psychology, was “thrilled” by the appointment, lauding Gay for “a real understanding of the FAS as a whole, and a boldness for the future.”