At Forum, Faust Stresses Importance of Higher Education and Humanities

For the fifth time since 2008, University President Drew G. Faust attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week, emphasizing Harvard’s commitment to accessibility and the importance of the humanities in the global economy during interviews and panels at the conference.

"The World Economic Forum in Davos offers us an opportunity to connect with alumni from all over the world, to engage with university leaders and others on the transformation going on in higher education, and to advance the notion that education and economic prosperity are inextricably linked,” Faust said.

Faust stressed this commitment to higher education and the humanities throughout the week, participating in two of the forum’s panels. In one, she and Time Magazine managing editor Nancy R. Gibbs took the stage for a thirty-minute, one-on-one discussion regarding the “inextricable connection between history, creativity and economic competitiveness.” In another, Faust helped lead a discussion on the role of humanities in the digital age.

Faust also met with several alumni and prominent political and business figures. As she has in previous years, she and Kennedy School of Government Dean David K. Ellwood ’75 hosted a gathering of over 300 University alumni, according to Christine M. Heenan, the University’s vice president for government community and public affairs, who accompanied Faust on the trip. Faust met with London Mayor Boris Johnson, media magnate Arianna Huffington, and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan as well, Heenan said.


Faust also made the international media rounds. In an interview Thursday with University of California at Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and edX president Anant Agarwal, she told Fox Business anchor Liz Claman that rising tuition costs are a major concern to those in higher education.

“College cost is something that all of us who are involved in higher education in the United States are very concerned about,” Faust said. “Certainly we need to address it. But we also see very important ways in which the private institutions, of which Harvard is one, have tried to address this.”

In particular, Faust highlighted Harvard’s financial aid program, which enables students from families who make less than $65,000 a year attend tuition-free.

And in an interview with China Central Television Saturday she addressed the issue of gender parity, reiterating her statement that, “I’m not the woman president of Harvard. I’m the president of Harvard.”

Citing the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions, such as  among heads of government and in corporations, Faust said, “We need to make sure we challenge obstacles to women’s full participation, and we need to instill in young women and girls the ambition that they too can and should aspire to occupy those kinds of places.”

Before attending the Forum, Faust visited London and hosted the first international event for the University's ongoing capital campaign. According to Heenan, the event included a reception for alumni and a panel of faculty.

—Staff writer Matthew Q. Clarida can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MattClarida.

—Staff writer Amna H. Hashmi can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @amna_hashmi.


Recommended Articles