Praise is coming from all across the world as Harvard University inaugurated Claudine Gay as the first Black person to serve as president of the private Ivy League school.
According to CNN, Gay is the first Black person and second woman to head the University since it opened in 1640. This makes her the 30th person in history to reign as the University’s president. Harvard Corporation, the University’s principal governing board, made the appointment. After an extensive search, Gay was selected as the president.
Gay has conducted research in areas dealing with race and identity politics.
Caribbean National Weekly reported that she is the child of Haitian immigrants who encouraged her academic endeavors. Gay studied Economics at Stanford University, where she graduated in 1992. She became an Associate Professor at the University in the 2000s. Gay also has an extensive list of achievements, such as her reign as vice president of the Midwest Political Science Association and trustee of Phillips Exeter Academy.
According to CNN, during her inauguration speech on Sept. 29, the scene was plastered with umbrellas as the audience sought shelter from the rain. Gay introduced herself and said, “I stand before you on this stage with the weight and the honor of being a first.”
The newly appointed president expressed her gratitude. She added that she is “humbled by the prospect of leading Harvard, emboldened by the trust you have placed in me, and energized by your own commitment to this singular institution and to the common cause of higher education.”
Gay also shared a glimpse of her vision for the University.
“The courage of this University—our resolve, against all odds—to question the world as it is and imagine and make a better one: It is what Harvard was made to do,” she shared.
Harvard’s presidential appointment has garnered praise because it portrays the value of representation and places an accomplished individual at the head of the University.
Maura Healey, Massachusetts governor and Harvard alumnus, warmly welcomed the new president in her address, saying, “President Gay, your presidency is truly historic. You have my admiration and support.”
“Claudine is a person of bedrock integrity,” Lawrence Bacow, the outgoing president, said as a display of approval for the new appointment. “She will provide Harvard with the strong moral compass necessary to lead this great university. The search committee has made an inspired choice for our 30th president. Under Claudine Gay’s leadership, Harvard’s future is very bright.”
Gay is not new to the Harvard family. In 1998, she received her Ph.D. from the university, where she wrote a dissertation in Political Science and received the Harvard Toppan Prize, which is given to the best essay on a subject in Political Science. Eight years after receiving her degree, she became a faculty member. Prior to her presidency, BLACK ENTERPRISE reported that the former professor of government and African American studies was employed as the Dean of Social Sciences at Harvard. Gay also launched an initiative called Inequality in America to analyze social and economic inequality in the U.S.
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