Drew Gilpin Faust: Harvard's New President Intends to Use 'Bully Pulpit' to Defend Higher Education

Historians in the News

The leaks that trickled out over the last year about Harvard University's search for a new president often centered on its reported interest in landing a prominent scientist and a woman. Harvard got its first female president, but not a scientist, with Drew Gilpin Faust, dean of the university's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, who was appointed on Sunday. Harvard also picked a defender of the role of higher education in society, said Ms. Faust.

University officials are clearly aware that it is important that the new president have credibility with scientists, and they have repeatedly said Ms. Faust is up to the task of overseeing the university's ambitious agenda in the sciences.

They also have denied as a "misimpression" that Ms. Faust won the job by being the last candidate standing, after a number of leading figures in higher education either said they were not interested or took themselves out of the running.

The reception on the campus to Ms. Faust has been warm. She benefits from being a faculty member in the university's School of Arts and Sciences, the powerful faculty group with which Lawrence H. Summers, the former Harvard president, often clashed. If Mr. Summers's supporters in Harvard's professional schools were disappointed with Ms. Faust's selection, they have kept mum.

But the role of Harvard president extends well beyond Cambridge, and Ms. Faust has already started coming under fire from conservative critics. A blog on the National Review's Web site on Friday reported that she had donated $2,000 to Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign, in 2004. Also on Friday, Heather Mac Donald, writing in a column for a publication of the right-leaning Manhattan Institute, called the direction Harvard seems to have taken with its choice of Ms. Faust a "tragedy," and said she represented an imminent "feminist takeover" at Harvard.

Ms. Faust, speaking at a news conference on Sunday, said she hoped to use the "bully pulpit" of the Harvard presidency. The issue she said she hopes to tackle, however, is not one of gender, but the role of higher education....
Read entire article at Chronicle of Higher Education

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