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Harvard President Claudine Gay Has Resigned. What Comes Next?

Harvard will once again search for a new president only six months after inaugurating former University President Claudine Gay, who resigned Tuesday.
Harvard will once again search for a new president only six months after inaugurating former University President Claudine Gay, who resigned Tuesday. By Joey Huang
By Natalie K Bandura and Sally E. Edwards, Crimson Staff Writers

Just over six months after inaugurating its 30th president, Harvard must once again search for a new leader.

Former Harvard President Claudine Gay’s resignation Tuesday — following months of turmoil at Harvard over tensions around the Israel-Hamas war, Gay’s disastrous congressional testimony, and growing plagiarism allegations — puts the school in the uncomfortable position of conducting its second presidential search in just two years.

In an email Tuesday afternoon confirming Gay’s resignation, the Harvard Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — said the presidential search process will “begin in due course,” though they did not specify any timeline or announce the formation of a search committee.

“We will be in further touch about the process, which will include broad engagement and consultation with the Harvard community in the time ahead,” the Corporation wrote.

The presidential search, already a momentous affair, carries particular weight following Gay’s resignation as the Corporation attempts to regain the confidence of Harvard affiliates, alumni, and donors who have said the body erred in choosing — and defending — Gay. Members of the Corporation have also faced calls to resign in recent weeks.

Harvard Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 will serve as interim president until Gay’s successor is chosen, the Corporation said. Garber, who has served as provost for 12 years under three successive presidents, represents a safe interim choice for the Corporation as the school navigates one of the most fraught periods in its history.

“We are fortunate to have someone of Alan’s broad and deep experience, incisive judgment, collaborative style, and extraordinary institutional knowledge to carry forward key priorities and to guide the university through this interim period,” the Corporation wrote.

Nearly all of the Corporation’s 12 members — as well as certain members of Harvard’s Board of Overseers, the University’s second-highest governing body — are expected to serve on a search committee to select the next president.

In previous searches, the outgoing president — who is also a member of the Corporation — does not join the committee seeking their successor, though it remains unclear if Garber will join the committee.

Past presidential searches have been enormous and global undertakings, likely involving input from Harvard faculty, students, former and current administrators, and higher education experts. The searches typically last six months or longer, although the five-month search process that selected Gay was the shortest process in more than 70 years.

While past searches have included candidates who are not Harvard affiliates, every president in the last 30 years has held a Harvard degree.

In the past, the search committee has sought suggestions and nominations from Harvard affiliates — sending hundreds of thousands of letters and emails, as well as speaking directly to alumni across the country.

Formal and informal nominations in past searches have yielded hundreds of candidates for consideration, which were then narrowed down to a short list in the months leading up to the final decision. Candidates face an intensive interview process, after which the Board of Overseers must approve the final selection.

The Crimson previously reported that the most recent selection process reviewed over 600 candidates before selecting Gay, who was then serving as the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

​​—Staff writer Natalie K Bandura can be reached at

—Staff writer Sally E. Edwards can be reached at Follow her on X @sallyedwards04 or on Threads @sally_edwards06.

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