The Library of Congress awarded University President Drew G. Faust the John W. Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced Tuesday.
The Kluge Prize, a $1 million award, recognizes “individuals whose outstanding scholarship in the humanities and social sciences has shaped public affairs and civil society,” according to a library press release. The winner is selected from a group of finalists from around the world through a three-stage review process by experts from within and outside of the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library.
Hayden said the Library is “thrilled” to award Faust for her work researching, writing, and teaching about American life—particularly as she broke ground as a woman leader in academia.
“Through her extensive writing about Southern identity, she has explored themes of deep relevance to our national conversation on race and gender,” Hayden said. “As the first female president of Harvard University, she has also led one of the most esteemed educational institutions in the world through a period of intense growth and transformation.”
Faust, who is the author of the Bancroft Prize-winning book “This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War,” said she was “deeply honored” to be selected for the Kluge Prize.
“The humanities and social sciences have never been more important to our understanding of society and the increasingly connected world we inhabit,” Faust said. “They allow us to see the world through the eyes of others, to understand the common hopes and aspirations we share, to cultivate judgement and discernment, and to identify and pursue the questions that must animate our pursuit of a better future.”
Faust’s remarks come at a time when higher education is under siege. At her final Commencement address before she steps down at the end of June, Faust dwelled at length on the swelling anti-higher education sentiment in the public sphere and in the halls of Congress.
“At a time of growing distrust of institution and constant attacks on colleges and universities, I want to affirm my belief that they are beacons of hope. I think our best hope for the future to which we aspire,” Faust told the audience in Tercentenary Theatre.
During her tenure, Faust has traveled to Washington D.C. a number of times to lobby on behalf of Harvard and higher education.
Faust’s background as a historian has also marked her decade-long tenure at Harvard. She has worked to help the University reckon with its ties to slavery, appointing a committee and convening a conference to examine this legacy. Faust has also dedicated a plaque at Wadsworth House–the site of her office next fall–to honor the slaves who lived and worked in the building.
Faust will receive the Kluge Prize on September 12 at a gala in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress.
—Staff writer Kristine E. Guillaume can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @krisguillaume.
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