On Monday, the Ann Radcliffe Trust announced the winners of this award and a similar student prize, the Women’s Leadership Award. Both awards recognize female members of the Harvard community for their leadership, according to Julia G. Fox, director of the Ann Radcliffe Trust and assistant dean of Harvard College.
Fox said that Gray, a historian of humanism and political thought in the Renaissance and the Reformation, is a female pioneer in academia.
“Dr. Gray’s early visibility as a successful woman leader in higher education paved the way for women to lead and effect change at other major research institutions such as Duke, Princeton, Brown and Penn,” Fox wrote in an e-mail.
In learning that she would receive the awards, Gray said that she “was both surprised and very grateful.”
“Basically, with much good fortune, I have been able to do what I really enjoy as a historian and administrator in academic institutions that I care about,” she wrote in an e-mail.
Gray has received over 60 honorary degrees including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. She was the first woman named president of a major research university in this country, manning the helm of the University of Chicago from 1978-1993. She also served as an adviser to three Harvard presidents.
For any future leader, Gray advises to “pursue one’s own path while being open to the unexpected new byways and challenges that emerge in the process.”
In addition to a professional prize, the Harvard College Women’s Leadership Award is also given to a junior or senior.
This year’s student recipient was Lindsay N. Hyde ’04, a joint concentrator in women’s studies and sociology.
Founder of the Strong Women, Strong Girls—a program that teaches leadership skills to young girls in Boston and is looking to expand nationally—Hyde is “a powerful advocate for women’s issues; and exactly the kind of student we should recognize and encourage as a future public leader and women’s advocate,” Associate Professor of Social Sciences Jason Kaufman wrote in his nomination letter.
The student award is unique in that students, along with faculty and administrators, may nominate and support fellow students.
According to its description, the award honors those who have “demonstrated exceptional leadership while attending Harvard, contributed toward the advancement of women, achieved meaningful impact on fellow students, and exhibited a potential for leadership in future endeavors.”
Hyde’s efforts have already been nationally recognized by Glamour Magazine, which named her one of the “Top 10 College Women” in an issue last year.
Sarah B. Levit-Shore ’04 and Julia B. Appel ’04 also earned honorable mentions for the Women’s Leadership Award.
Appel said her future plans include working in the nonprofit sector, focusing on the Jewish community, affordable housing, community development and women’s rights.
The awards are funded through an endowment established by a gift from Harvard alumna Terrie Fried Bloom ’75. Both Gray and Hyde will receive their awards at a ceremony and dinner on April 21 at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Mass.