Larry Bacow speaks during Harvard Heroes ceremony on stage alongside fellow recipients.

Photos by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

Our heroes

4 min read

66 employees — including President Bacow — celebrated for contributions to Harvard

Every year dozens of Harvard employees are honored as Harvard Heroes — an award acknowledging achievement from every corner of campus, from the Law School to Campus Services. This year, a surprise honoree joined the ranks during Friday’s ceremony in Memorial Hall.

Harvard President Larry Bacow, who is set to step down at the end of the month after five years on the job, was named one of this year’s heroes in front of colleagues, employees, and their families.

Fellow honorees took turns narrating a video tribute to the president that touched on his background growing up in Pontiac, Michigan, and his tenure leading both MIT and Tufts. “You came here to listen, to learn, to grow, to find new ways that Harvard can do better and be better. You’ve helped us grow by moving forward boldly — toward greater diversity and inclusion, ambitious environmental stewardship, and a frank accountability for an imperfect past.”

Following the ceremony, Bacow expressed gratitude. “I’ve often said that Harvard is its people. And today we honored Harvard’s best.”

Larry Bacow waves as he receives Harvard Heroes award.
“I’m grateful for your dedication, and incredibly proud to call you my colleagues,” said Bacow.

Among this year’s 66 honorees was Ann Marie Menting, editor of Harvard Medicine magazine.

Menting was recognized for “transforming Harvard Medicine magazine into an award-winning flagship publication” in addition to more than two decades of service to the University.

“You’ve shared news and knowledge and improved outreach by highlighting critical issues and raising up diverse voices — an approach you also take as a manager and mentor,” Bacow said of Menting. “Your colleagues say they have the proof: You’re one of the best.”

Menting said she was surprised by the award, and humbled. She added that her favorite part of Harvard, and part of what drives her work, is its mission. “How can you not be in favor of advancing knowledge and in making people feel a part of the whole … it’s a privilege to be part of a special institution like this.”

Harvard Heroes recipients on stage.

Like Bacow, Mary McConnell, catalog coordinator for the History Department, is leaving Harvard this summer. “I thought it was the perfect gift from my faculty and coworkers to give me after 40 years of service.”

During McConnell’s time at Harvard, she’s gotten married, had kids and grandkids. Her newest grandbaby is due at the end of July. After she retires, she plans to use her free time to travel and babysit, and looks forward to taking the granddaughters to Disney. “But I’ll be back to visit.”

Yvonne Smith, who has been with Harvard 44 years, expressed a real love for her work in the Dean of Students Office at the Law School, specifically with the board of student advisers. “Being a resource for them, being a mentor for them. That’s what’s kept me here for so long.”

Smith said that she plans to celebrate more with her family during vacation at the end of the month. “It’s an honor. Totally unexpected.”

Kyle Shachmut, director of Digital Accessibility, has helped lead an overhaul at the University to guarantee everyone has equitable access to its resources.

“Your drive to educate others and lead conversations has made your team a model for improving digital access for those with disabilities,” Bacow said during the ceremony.

Shachmut, who has been at Harvard for seven years and works with a large array of units, said he loves being able to bring diverse resources to the public. “Whether they’re in the School of Public Health, or the Center for Astrophysics, or the Provost’s Office, we just help make sure that they’re not excluding anybody with their digital footprint.”

Bacow, in his final address to the Harvard Heroes, thanked them for their service to the University and each other.

“Your accomplishments and contributions are truly inspiring. I’m grateful for your dedication, and incredibly proud to call you my colleagues,” he said. “Thank you for giving your best to make Harvard — and the world — a better place.”