Claudine Gay, a professor of Government and African and African American Studies, will become the divisional dean of social science for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on July 1.
Gay joined the Government Department in 2006 and is currently its director of graduate studies. She received her Ph.D. from that department in 1998. Prior to joining the Harvard Faculty, Gay spent six years in the department of political science at her undergraduate alma mater Stanford University, where she received tenure.
Gay said she made the decision to take on the position within the past 10 days, after making considerations about her family. Now, she said she is focused on learning more about the position from colleagues within the division.
“Right now I am very focused on just listening and learning from my colleagues, and through that I am coming to a better sense for what some of the challenges are,” Gay said.
She will replace Sociology professor Peter V. Marsden, who has held the position since 2010 and is now stepping down at the end of his five-year term. Gay will become the fourth dean to lead the Social Science division, which was established in 2003 under then-FAS Dean William C. Kirby, and the first woman to lead the division.
The division includes 10 departments and degree committees as well as numerous museums, institutes, and research centers. The departments include Government, Economics, and History, some of the largest in FAS.
“[Gay] has been a trusted adviser on faculty and decanal searches, serving on or chairing many review and search committees,” FAS Dean Michael D. Smith said in the press release. “As divisional dean, Professor Gay will continue her efforts to strengthen the faculty and advance our teaching and research missions.”
Janet Browne, chair of the History of Science department, said that Gay’s background will serve the Social Science departments well.
“She brings with her a different set of communities from Harvard, which is a benefit,” she said, mentioning her position as a Government professor.
Government professor Stephen D. Ansolabehere said that he was optimistic about her deanship.
“She wants to integrate research and teaching more and has a real commitment to diversity in the faculty, as well as a strong sense of equity and fairness,” he said, “and I am sure those will be brought to bear.”
“She will bring great energy, imagination, and judgment to the office,” Marsden wrote of his successor in an email.
Gay was elected to the Faculty Council, the highest elected body in FAS, in April and is currently scheduled to begin that term July 1 as well, though at this point Gay said that “there are many details that still need to be sorted out” and that she “would most likely step away from the Faculty Council position.”
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