KA1FZQ, 29th President of Harvard:
February 12, 2018
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Through the Harvard Wireless Club (W1AF):
Dear Alumni and Friends,
On behalf of Harvard's governing boards, I am extremely pleased to report
that Lawrence S. Bacow will become the 29th president of Harvard University,
effective July 1, 2018.
Larry Bacow is one of the most accomplished, admired, insightful, and
effective leaders in American higher education. This is a pivotal moment for
higher education - a time full of extraordinary possibilities to pursue new
knowledge, enhance education, and serve society, but also a time when the
singular value of higher education and university research has too often
been challenged and called into doubt. Such a time calls for skillful
leadership, strategic thinking, and disciplined execution. Larry will
provide just that.
He will bring to the task not only wide experience, deep expertise, and an
intimate familiarity with Harvard's opportunities and challenges, but also a
passionate commitment to helping universities, and everyone within them,
serve the larger world. With the curiosity and keen intelligence of a
scholar and teacher, the vision and steady hand of a seasoned leader of
institutions, and the energetic commitment and buoyant stamina of a devoted
marathoner, he is ideally positioned to hit the ground running and keep
Harvard moving ambitiously forward.
The son of immigrants, with three degrees from Harvard including a Ph.D. in
public policy, Larry was a longtime faculty leader at MIT, his undergraduate
alma mater. There, he rose to become the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor
of Environmental Studies, the Chair of the Faculty, and then the institute's
Chancellor - a role in which he had responsibility for undergraduate
education, graduate education, research initiatives, international and
industrial partnerships, and strategic planning.
After MIT, he served for a decade with great distinction as President of
Tufts University. Known for expanding student opportunity, catalyzing
innovation across disciplines, and enhancing universities' civic engagement,
he worked tirelessly to advance Tufts' excellence in teaching, research, and
public service, and to weave new ties among the university's eight schools.
With colleagues, he embraced diversity as a cornerstone of excellence; he
strengthened Tufts' connections with its host communities as well as alumni;
he engineered a new partnership with what is now Tufts Medical Center; and
he led the most ambitious fundraising drive in Tufts history, while adroitly
steering the university through the Great Recession. At Larry's final Tufts
commencement in 2011, Charles Vest, president emeritus of MIT, saluted him
as "perhaps the most respected university president in the country." And the
graduating students chimed in with their by-then-familiar chant of "Larry,
For the past six-plus years, Larry has continued his focus on higher
education and leadership, with Harvard as his principal professional home.
He served as President-in-Residence at our Graduate School of Education from
2011 to 2014, then took up his current post as the Hauser
Leader-in-Residence at the Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public
Leadership. He has devoted himself to advising scores of new and aspiring
higher education leaders, mentoring students interested in careers in
education, teaching in executive education programs, and writing and
speaking widely on major issues facing higher education - from online
learning to the economics of universities, from innovations in teaching and
academic freedom to university leadership and governance.
At the same time, he has played an integral role in Harvard's own
governance, as a member since 2011 of the university's principal governing
board, the Corporation. His wisdom, perspective, and counsel have been
invaluable, and he has become well acquainted with the full range of
strategic imperatives facing the university - from planning future
developments in Allston to bolstering support for university research across
all disciplines, from envisioning new modes of learning to fostering
academic collaborations focused on society's most complex challenges, from
realizing the full potential of our growing diversity to assuring that
Harvard continues to attract faculty, students, and staff whose talent and
promise can change the world.
Larry's extraordinary professional accomplishments take root in equally
extraordinary human qualities - of integrity and collegiality, intelligence
and compassion, humility and high standards, openness and warmth. He is
someone who inspires trust in others, who motivates people to do their best
work, who sees the exciting possibilities amid pressing challenges, who
constantly reminds us to set our sights on something larger than ourselves.
He radiates a deep conviction in the importance of what universities do, yet
does so without a hint of self-importance. He is not just a remarkable
leader, scholar, and educator, but a terrific human being.
Larry, of course, began the search as a member of the search committee. From
the summer through late last year, as we reached out widely to solicit
advice and nominations, increasingly many people within Harvard and beyond -
faculty, students, staff, alumni, institutional leaders here and elsewhere -
encouraged us to consider Larry for the presidency. We ultimately decided to
ask him if he would consider becoming a candidate. After pondering the
request, he agreed to step down from the search committee in mid-December.
In doing so, he emphasized his deep belief in the university's mission and
values and his desire to do everything he can to enable Harvard to be the
best it can be.
Today's announcement concludes a wide-ranging search that, since its launch
last summer, benefited from the helpful counsel of a great many people
across Harvard and beyond. With my colleagues on the search committee, I
thank all of you who offered your thoughtful advice. Our gratitude goes
especially to the members of the three advisory committees - of faculty,
students, and staff - who worked so hard and contributed so much to
informing the search committee's deliberations, both by sharing their own
views and by eliciting robust input from many others. We owe particular
thanks to the advisory committee chairs - Robin Kelsey, Jyoti Jasrasaria,
and Katie Lapp. Finally, I want again to salute Drew Faust for her
outstanding leadership and service, which will leave her successor with so
strong a platform to build on. With her, we will do our best to make her
final spring in Mass Hall both memorable and productive.
For today, please join me in congratulating and welcoming Larry Bacow as
Harvard's next president. He is someone who leads by giving credit rather
than taking it. And he knows that what Harvard can accomplish for its
students and for the world in the years ahead will depend foremost on all of
William F. Lee
Chair, Presidential Search Committee
Senior Fellow, Harvard Corporation
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