Last month, Harvard’s Board of Overseers confirmed Drew Gilpin Faust as the University’s 28th president. A civil war historian who has led the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study since 2001, Faust, for some, has come to represent the antithesis of former President Lawrence H. Summers. Where Summers was viewed as abrasive and controversial, Faust has built a reputation for her powers of consensus-building, which might prove useful given the tempestuous relations between the Faculty and former president.
But beyond her powers of diplomacy and academic repute, Faust has garnered particular attention because she will be the first woman president in Harvard’s 371-year history. Her tenure begins at a transitional moment for the University, with its search for a new dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), its expansion across the Charles, and its reassessment of the undergraduate curriculum.