Drew Gilpin Faust: Installed as president of Harvard

Historians in the News

"I stand honored by your trust, inspired by your charge," Drew G. Faust told thousands of spectators as she took the podium for her installation as Harvard’s 28th president on Friday afternoon.

In a rainy and blustery Tercentenary Theatre, Faust drew from the past to discuss the evolving role of universities and Harvard's responsibilities as a leader in higher education.

As expected, Faust explicitly avoided laying out a road map for her tenure in her 30-minute speech, calling inaugural addresses "by definition pronouncements by individuals who don’t yet know what they are talking about."

"Lists seem too constraining when I think of what today should mean," Faust said early in the speech to a crowd that included members of her extended family and representatives of universities around the world. "They seem a way of limiting rather than unleashing our most ambitious imaginings, our profoundest commitments."

Instead, Faust invoked John Winthrop and used her address to provide a "compass to steer by," a web of broadly conceived priorities for the University.

"This is a moment that is meant to encompass a whole presidency, a decade say, of what I think is important and the values that are going to motivate me," Faust told The Crimson in an interview Thursday.

Making Harvard open to students of all backgrounds remains one of the fundamental challenges facing the University, Faust said in her speech, echoing her pledge last month to consider ways of expanding graduate school financial aid.

"Issues of access and cost persist—for middle-class families who suffer terrifying sticker shock, for graduate and professional students, who may incur enormous debt as they pursue service careers in fields where salaries are modest," Faust said. ...

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