Harvard Names Lawrence Bacow President, Succeeding Drew Faust

A seal hangs over a building at Harvard University in Cambridge Massachusetts

A seal hangs over a building at Harvard University in Cambridge Massachusetts

The U.S. university of Harvard on Sunday named Lawrence Bacow its next president, saying he will lead the school to counter doubts and challenges against higher education. He will replace Drew Gilpin Faust, who is retiring in June. "Larry will provide just that".

The previous year has been tumultuous for higher education, as universities across the country have faced greater financial pressure, setbacks for undocumented students and the rollback of the 2011 "Dear Colleague Letter", which shaped the adjudication of sexual misconduct at universities.

The presidential search committee consulted faculty, students, staff, and alumni before ultimately selecting Bacow from almost 700 candidates.

Bacow received his undergraduate education from MIT and obtained three degrees - including a law degree - from Harvard.

Bacow, 66, is now the Hauser Leader-in-Residence at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government's Center for Public Leadership. During that year's search, Bacow repeatedly denied any interest in the Harvard post.

Twelve years later, Lee, who chaired the search committee, praised Bacow's leadership skills in a letter sent to Harvard affiliates Sunday announcing Bacow's appointment.

The presidential search has been underway since University President Drew G. Faust announced over the summer she planned to step down in June 2018 after 11 years at Harvard's helm.

Bacow, 66, a former president of Tufts University and chancellor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will take over on July 1, Harvard said Sunday in an emailed statement. Faust, the university's 28th president, is also its first woman president. While at Tufts, he led that university's largest-ever capital campaign to date, expanded financial aid and diversity initiatives, and created a new partnership with Tufts Medical Center.

This is not the first time Bacow's name has been floated for the Harvard presidency: He made the University's shortlist of candidates for the 2006-2007 search that resulted in Faust's selection, The Crimson reported in December 2006. In a Bloomberg media roundtable, she called the administration "unpredictable" and untied to "traditional notions of the role of government", according to the Boston Globe. By contrast, Salovey has declined to name the specific congressmen with whom he meets, arguing that keeping the meetings confidential will prevent the politicians from "posturing for the coverage that they think will be given to the press in the interaction".

Furthermore, Harvard also now is in the middle of an investigation led by the U.S. Justice Department that focuses on the university's affirmative action policies and whether it discriminates against Asian-American applicants. The inquiry was born out of a federal complaint in 2015 that accused the school of discrimination against Asian-Americans in its admissions process. He joined the Harvard Corporation, the University's highest governing body, in 2011.

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