Live: Choosing a President

A live blog of Faust's confirmation as Harvard president

A press conference by President-elect of Harvard Drew Gilpin Faust just took place in the Barker Center, soon after the Board of Overseers approved the search committee's choice.

Follow this blog for live updates throughout the day.

4:55 pm: In a brief interview after the conference, Crimson reporters ask the lofty president-elect how tall she is. "I'm 5-11, and don't ask me how much I weigh," she answers.

4:40 pm: The press conference ends. Reporters begin to exit the room, but seize the opportunity to snap a picture of Faust and Bok together. Corporation members, including Houghton, talk to reporters.

4:38 pm: A reporter asks Faust how she will pursue her passion in history. Faust responds that she will not be able to do significant scholarly work while she is president. But Faust says she hopes to be able to continue to teach her conference course on the Civil War this spring.

4:37 pm: Asked about Harvard's weakness, Faust discusses the need for expansion into Allston to improve Harvard's science initiatives, as well as the need for improvements in undergraduate education.

4:36 pm:
Faust says, "I'm not the woman president of Harvard. I'm the president of Harvard." She adds that it would be "wrong not to acknowledge" that her gender "has tremendous significance."

4:33 pm:
A Crimson reporter asks how she will make the transition from the small Radcliffe Institute to leading the large University. Faust answers, "thoughtfully," reassuring the audience that she has talked about this a lot with the search committee. She adds that she does have a lot to learn.

4:32 pm:
A reporter asks how she will use the pulpit of the presidency and she answers that she will try to talk about and propose solutions to improve the problems of higher education.

4:31 pm:
The conference opens to questions. A reporter asks what her main priorities are. She answers that she is going to try to fill the four vacant deanships, including her own deanship at the Radcliffe Institute.

4:30 pm:
Faust's remarks end and a loud applause from the audience ensues. As Faust gets teary-eyed, Houghton kisses her on the cheek

4:23 pm: 
Greeted by the longest applause of the conference, Faust takes the stage. Faust discusses the challenges facing Harvard and the University's expansion into Allston. "Americans sacrifice and struggle to get their children into college or university, yet mock those same institutions as self indulgent, hidebound, badly managed," she says. She says that what Harvard "helps to define the character and meaning of the universities of the 21st century.

4:20 pm: Graham speaks next. Says Faust has taken on "three different hats": shaping the Radcliffe Institute, building up Radcliffe's science focus, and bringing people together to "set shared goals and to work to achieve those goals." Graham says that "Drew is a great teacher" and that she "creates intellectual excitement."

4:16 pm: Bok takes the stage with a long applause from the crowd. After thanking the search committee for the "hard work" which they have "poured into this task," he says that president has to "create an environment which can enable all of the people" who live here and work here "to achieve up to the fullest of their talents." Ends by saying "Drew, you have a wonderful job. Don't let anybody tell you this is an onerous job, that this is a difficult job" and joking he suggested that she might serve for as many as 30 or 40 years.

4:12 pm: Houghton speaks first, calling this a "great and historic day for Harvard." He also says that "she has interests that extend to the whole of the University." Summers was criticized by many for favoring the sciences and his own field of economics.

4:11 pm: Graham, Houghton, Bok and Faust enter the room and the press conference begins. Alan Stone, the vice president for government, community, and public affairs, addresses the crowd of about 50. Robert E. Rubin '60 and James F. Rothenberg '68 are the only two Corporation members absent.

4:03 pm: Intercepted on his way out of Loeb House, Houghton tells a Crimson reporter "I feel very good. I think we have a wonderful president. The fact that she is a woman is great, but I think she is the best candidate."

3:59 pm: Faust exits Loeb House with James R. Houghton '58, the senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation. They cross Quincy Street and enter the Barker Center, where the press conference is to be held.

3:54 pm: Interim President Derek C. Bok is seen driving down Quincy Street in his silver Toyota Prius. He turns to look at Loeb House as he passes.

3:45 pm: Reporters begin to fill the Thompson room at the Barker center in anticipation of the 4 p.m. press conference. Gazing down on the proceedings are important figures in Radcliffe's history including a painting of LeBaron Russell Briggs, who was the second president of Radcliffe College from 1903 to 1925, and Helen Keller, who graduated from Radcliffe College in 1904. A spokesperson announces that Bok, Houghton, and Susan L. Graham '64, the president of the Board of Overseers will be appearing on stage with Faust.

3:15 pm: James R. Houghton '58, the senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation, sends an e-mail to the Harvard community announcing the confirmation of Faust as Harvard's 28th president. "Drew is an inspiring and accomplished institutional leader, a superb scholar, an outstanding teacher, and a wonderful human being. Harvard will benefit from her experience, her energy, and her wisdom in the years to come."

3:10 pm:
Frances D. Fergusson, an Overseer and member of the presidential search committee, tells a Crimson reporter that Faust spoke to the Overseers in Loeb House for 45 minutes before leaving the room for the unanimous confirmation vote. When she returned, according to Fergusson, Faust was greeted with a standing ovation and toasted with champagne.

3:05 pm: Richard I. Melvoin '73, an Overseer and the headmaster of Belmont Hill School, exits Loeb House wearing a crimson tie laced with golden trees—the symbol of Radcliffe College.

2:45 pm: Drew Gilpin Faust is unanimously confirmed by the Board of Overseers as Harvard's 28th president, according to Overseers exiting Loeb House. She is the first woman to hold the position in history.

2:00 pm:
Quincy St. is abuzz with preparations for the day's events. In the alley between Emerson Hall and Loeb House, Chez Vous catering is hard at work feeding the governing board members who are meeting in Loeb to confirm Faust as president. What are they eating?

"I can't talk to anyone," the caterer tells a Crimson reporter.

Harvard policemen stand sentry between the Barker Center and Lamont Libary, while a man wheels potted plants across the street. And inside Barker, the humanities building in which Faust is scheduled to meet the press around 4 p.m., technicians are setting up the stage for a news conference in the ornate Thompson Room. Looming over a snazzy red background that says "Harvard University" over and over is the sage, bronze head of John Harvard.

1:40 pm: In an e-mail to The Crimson, Interim President Derek C. Bok writes that he thinks Faust is an "excellent choice" to serve as Harvard's 28th president. See the e-mail below.


"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.  I believe that she is an excellent  choice to lead Harvard during a very important and promising period in its history."

12:50 pm: Faust is seen walking through Tercentenary Theater towards Loeb House,  where the Board of Overseers is currently meeting. She tells a Crimson reporter that she is "pretty excited." At the corner of Loeb House, she says, "I'd better kiss my husband."  She turns back to her husband, Monrad Professor of Social Sciences Charles Rosenberg. They kiss, and he tells her, "Knock 'em dead." As she waits for the door of Loeb House to open for her, she jokes, "Hope there's room at the inn."