“We need to teach our students to be quick to understand, and slow to judge. And as faculty, we owe this duty to each other as well,” he said.
Bacow laid out initiatives to help Harvard create excellence and support it across the country. He said the University will work to raise money to support public-service internships for undergraduates who want them, and called for collaborations with other colleges and universities to hold down rising costs by sharing research infrastructure and housing and initiating exchange programs that eliminate redundancies in curricula.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues at Boston-area institutions to explore how we can collectively do a better job of serving both our students and society,” he said.
Bacow, a child of immigrants, also outlined the benefits of allowing students and faculty from other nations to come to America to study and live, citing the facts that more than a third of Nobel Prizes awarded to Americans in chemistry, medicine, and physics since 2000 have gone to those born elsewhere, and more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.
“America has to continue welcoming those who seek freedom and opportunity, lest we shut the door to the next generation of great entrepreneurs, scholars, public leaders, and, dare I say, university presidents,” Bacow said.
The chair of the inauguration steering committee, Harvard General Counsel and Senior Vice President Robert Iuliano, said the event was bigger than an inauguration, serving also as a gathering and celebration of the large Harvard community.
“This inauguration is so much more than the installation of a president. It is a true celebration of the Harvard community, and we are thrilled with the way in which the community has turned out with enthusiasm, support, and pride for this historic gathering,” Iuliano said.
“We owe debts of gratitude to the community for warmly welcoming Larry and Adele [Bacow] with open arms; to those whose spaces and schedules were affected by the logistical quirks inherent in planning a large-scale event for their grace and hospitality; to the many departments, individuals, units, and Schools that provided ideas, content, volunteer hours, and much more for aiding us in creating a robust and truly spectacular program; and to the many dedicated alumni and friends of Harvard who traveled [from] near and far to demonstrate just how much this University means to them, and for their unending support.”
Throughout the two days, food and music were constantly on hand. On Thursday evening, a musical performance at Sanders Theatre was followed by a dessert reception at nearby Annenberg Hall. Friday morning featured a Taste of Harvard breakfast, followed by a series of academic symposia and a luncheon at Annenberg Hall and the Science Center Plaza. The symposia showcased the breadth of Harvard scholarship, addressing the science of behavior change, confronting inequality, dignity in modern democracy, data’s role in understanding the world, the future of medicine, the origins of life, the power of stories to influence our lives, and “A Look Across Harvard,” a series of short talks featuring one faculty member from each Harvard School.
The inaugural events wrapped up with the block party, with fall-themed food, cider, and more music. Attendees flowed from Tercentenary Theatre toward the stage, refreshment tents, and tables in the Old Yard next door.