In Photos: Claudine Gay’s Inauguration as Harvard's 30th President

By Sedina Ackuayi, Julian J. Giordano, Addison Y. Liu, and Frank S. Zhou
By Frank S. Zhou

Claudine Gay was inaugurated as Harvard's 30th president in a rainy ceremony on Friday. Hundreds braved the weather to celebrate her appointment in Tercentenary Theatre.

By Julian J. Giordano

Before the festivities, Harvard’s four most recent presidents posed for a photo in front of Massachusetts Hall.

From top to bottom, left to right: Lawrence H. Summers, Lawrence S. Bacow, Drew Gilpin Faust, and current University President Claudine Gay.

Two living former Harvard presidents, Neil L. Rudenstine, 88, and Derek C. Bok, 93, were absent from the photo and did not attend the ceremony.

The festivities began with a procession into Tercentenary Theatre. Harvard affiliates and other university administrators donned in colorful robes made their way to the stage in front of Memorial Church.

On the left, Massachusetts Governor Maura T. Healey ’92 engages with the crowd as she walks down the aisle. Healey later addressed the audience, congratulating Gay and praising her academic achievements and leadership.

“President Gay, your presidency is truly historic,” she said. “You have my admiration and support.”

On the right, President Gay waves to crowd members on her way to the stage.

The event started with an opening speech and land acknowledgment by Elizabeth E. Solomon ’79, elder of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag and director of administration at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Yosvany Terry, director of jazz ensembles and senior lecturer in music, performed “America the Beautiful” on the saxophone.

Student acapella group The Harvard Opportunes performed the song “Change in My Life” after speeches from Healey and Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, the chancellor of the City University of New York.

As it began to rain, attendees took out umbrellas and donned ponchos to continue watching the ceremony.

Harvard Alumni Association President Tracy “Ty” Moore ’06 lauded the audience for braving the rain and asked them to engage in an impromptu bonding exercise.

Telling attendees to raise both arms and touch their neighbors’ shoulders, Moore asked the audience to create a “humongous hug” to “shower [Gay] with good vibes.”

In advance of a dance performance, event staffers used towels and mops to dry the stage.

Madelyn Ho ’08, who graduated from the Harvard Medical School in 2018, performed an excerpt from “Syzygy,” choreographed by Paul Taylor.

From left to right: Penny Pritzker ’81, the Harvard Corporation senior fellow, presents Gay with the Charter granted to Harvard College in 1650 by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; Gay displays the University’s ceremonial keys, presented to her by Summers; and Bacow presents Gay with the two official Harvard seals, one dating back to 1650 and the other adopted in 1885.

President Gay takes a seat in the Holyoke Chair, an approximately 450-year-old relic that has been a symbol of Harvard’s presidency since the 18th century.

Gay takes to the podium for her inaugural address as former presidents Faust and Bacow watch from behind.

“I stand before you today humbled by the prospect of leading Harvard, emboldened by the trust you have placed in me, and energized by your own commitment to this singular institution and to the common cause of higher education,” she said.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, umbrellas were passed out to the attendees on stage. Below, Harvard Bhangra performers led the procession out of Tercentenary Theatre.

The inauguration was followed by festivities in the Old Yard, including performances on two stages, several food trucks, and stations handing out themed food and dessert plates.

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