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Harvard Launches Search for Next Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences

University Hall, located in Harvard Yard, houses administrative offices for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
University Hall, located in Harvard Yard, houses administrative offices for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. By Thomas Maisonneuve
By Rahem D. Hamid and Elias J. Schisgall, Crimson Staff Writers

The search for Harvard’s next dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest academic school, launched Tuesday afternoon, FAS Dean and University President-elect Claudine Gay announced in an email to FAS affiliates.

Gay and University Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 will lead the search, with assistance from a 14-person advisory committee composed of 12 FAS professors, Dean of Harvard Law School John F. Manning ’82, and Harvard Business School professor Tsedal Neeley.

The FAS professors come from all three academic divisions and span more than a dozen academic departments.

Gay said selecting a candidate to succeed her at the helm of Harvard’s biggest school will be one of her “first and most important tasks as president-elect.”

“We hope to benefit from views from across the FAS community and beyond as we seek to identify an outstanding new leader of the FAS,” Gay wrote.

Gay’s email did not provide a timeline for the search or specify to what extent Harvard’s current president, Lawrence S. Bacow, will be involved. Harvard spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain declined to comment on a timeline or Bacow’s involvement.

In recent decades, FAS deans have stepped down at around the same time as the University president. Gay’s search for her successor will be the fourth consecutive time a president-elect or first-year president has appointed a new FAS dean.

In her email, Gay invited FAS faculty, students, and staff to provide insights on the future of the FAS or nominate potential candidates via a survey or a dedicated email for the search.

“We particularly invite your thoughts on the major opportunities and challenges facing the FAS in the coming years, on the professional and personal qualities most important to seek in the next dean, and on any individuals who you believe warrant serious consideration for the deanship,” she wrote.

Selecting her successor at FAS will likely be the most consequential of four appointments Gay is poised to make as she begins her term as president. She will also be tasked with finding a new dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences — for whom a search kicked off last week — and deans of Harvard’s Divinity School and School of Public Health.

The next FAS dean will inherit a slate of initiatives Gay launched during her tenure, including hiring faculty in climate studies and working with Brenda D. Tindal, the newly-appointed FAS campus curator, to assess and update the school’s spaces and signage.

Gay’s successor will also oversee the conclusion of a three-year FAS strategic planning process to assess and provide recommendations for the school’s long-term sustainability and success.

—Staff writer Rahem D. Hamid can be reached at

—Staff writer Elias J. Schisgall can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @eschisgall.

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FAS AdministrationFacultyFront FeatureClaudine Gay

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