Faust Confirmed as 28th President

Unnamed photo
Meghan T. Purdy

University President-elect Drew Gilpin Faust is congratulated by Interim President Derek C. Bok after holding her first official press conference. Bok--Harvard's 25th president--returned to office when Lawrence H. Summers--Harvard's 27th president--resign

Drew Gilpin Faust was unanimously confirmed as Harvard's first woman president this afternoon by the alumni Board of Overseers.

The confirmation, usually considered a formality, makes Faust the official president-elect of the University.

A veteran academic and Civil War historian who has led the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study since 2001, Faust was offered the presidency earlier this week by the six fellows of the Harvard Corporation, the University's executive governing body. She is expected to begin her term in office on July 1, 2007.

James R. Houghton '58, the senior fellow of the Corporation, confirmed the selection in an e-mail sent to the Harvard community just after 3 p.m.

"Drew is an inspiring and accomplished institutional leader, a superb scholar, an outstanding teacher, and a wonderful human being," he wrote in the e-mail. "Harvard will benefit from her experience, her energy, and her wisdom in the years to come".

Faust made her first public comments as president-elect at a 4 p.m. news conference at the historic Barker Center, the University's humanities hub. "I'm not the woman president of Harvard," Faust said, with a bust of John Harvard looming over her. "I'm the president of Harvard."

Before the news conference, Interim President Derek C. Bok called Faust's appointment an "excellent choice."

"Drew Faust is a highly experienced scholar with a record of success in all she undertakes, a fine sense of values, and a deep understanding of universities," he said in an e-mail. "I believe that she is an excellent choice to lead Harvard during a very important and promising period in its history."

Former University President Lawrence H. Summers, who tapped Faust to lead two gender diversity task forces created in the wake of his comments on women in science two years ago, praised the selection of the Radcliffe dean.

"Drew Faust is an outstanding scholar and has been an extraordinary academic leader at Radcliffe and in the university community more broadly," Summers said in a statement to The Crimson. "I look forward to the great things that the Harvard community will accomplish in the years ahead with Drew's leadership."

Today's official confirmation, which comes three days after The Crimson first reported that the committee had selected Faust, wraps up a presidential search that lasted nearly a year. Summers announced his resignation from the presidency on February 21, 2006.

—Check www.thecrimson.com for more updates throughout the evening.
—Staff writer Paras D. Bhayani can be reached at pbhayani@fas.harvard.edu.
—Staff writer Claire M. Guehenno can be reached at guehenno@fas.harvard.edu.