Harvard President Larry Bacow (left) and Adele Bacow walk through the schedule for his Inauguration two days before the event takes place.

Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

Welcoming No. 29

Harvard will formally inaugurate Larry Bacow as president Friday, with a ceremony and a block party

3 min read

Harvard President Larry Bacow will be officially installed as Harvard’s 29th president on Friday afternoon, with a formal inauguration ceremony followed by a festive block party.

To celebrate, the Harvard Art Museums and the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture will offer free admission on Friday. The Harvard University Archives will have an exhibit featuring the various historic insignia presented to Bacow as part of his installation, including the Harvard Charter of 1650, College Book 1, the oldest surviving record book with entries dating to the 17th century, the Harvard seals of 1843 and 1885, and ceremonial keys made in 1846.

Widener Library is offering tours and an exhibit focusing on highlights from its special collections and archives, while Houghton Library is offering tours of items from its rare book and manuscript collection, as well as of its literary-themed rooms dedicated to Emily Dickinson, Amy Lowell, John Keats, and Samuel Johnson.

The inauguration ceremony itself, which is open to the Harvard community and invited guests, will include government and community leaders, delegates from universities across the country and around the world, and colleagues and friends of the president. It will begin at 2 p.m. with an academic procession into Tercentenary Theatre in Harvard Yard.

The procession will be followed by the installation, which will involve Bacow’s four immediate predecessors as Harvard president — Drew Faust, Larry Summers, Neil Rudenstine, and Derek Bok — as well as Bill Lee, senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation, and Susan Carney, president of the Board of Overseers.

Bacow takes a moment to appreciate the view of Tercentenary Theatre from his seat on stage.

Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

The installation will include music by the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra and the Inauguration Choir and an original poem, “Making Mountains as We Run,” by Amanda Gorman ’20, the inaugural U.S. youth poet laureate.

Speakers will include Bacow himself, who will deliver an inaugural address, as well as Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker; MIT President L. Rafael Reif; Dean of Arts and Humanities Robin Kelsey, who chaired the Presidential Search Faculty Advisory Committee; Undergraduate Council President Catherine Zhang; Harvard Alumni Association President Margaret Wang; and Calixto Sáenz, director of Harvard Medical School’s Microfluidics Microfabrication Core Facility.

“The Bacow Block Party” will follow the inauguration in the Old Yard, and is also open to the Harvard community.

Access to Harvard Yard on Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. will be limited to those with a Harvard ID, an installation ticket, or inauguration credentials. Entry to the Yard will be through Johnston, Lamont, Meyer, and Widener gates. Bags and personal items will be subject to inspection. A livestream of the ceremony will be available.

The celebration kicked off Thursday evening with a musical prelude at Sanders Theatre and a dessert reception at Annenberg Hall. Friday’s early events include a special breakfast and a luncheon.

Also preceding the installation are concurrent academic symposia, open by invitation, that showcase the breadth of Harvard’s scholarship. Topics include behavioral economics and change, confronting inequality, dignity in modern democracy, the role of data in understanding the world, life sciences and the future of medicine, the origins of life, and the power of stories to influence lives. “A Look Across Harvard,” moderated by Provost Alan Garber, is a series of short talks featuring a faculty member from each of Harvard’s Schools.