Harvard University has tapped Dr Lawrence S. Bacow — the son of two European refugees and a seasoned higher education administrator — to serve as its 29th president.
A son of the university, Bacow has three degrees from the Ivy League institution and will replace Dr. Drew Faust, who made history when she became the university’s first female president in 2007.
Dr. Lawrence S. Bacow
Bacow, who served as president of Tufts University for a decade, has been credited with championing faculty diversity at the university. He also has held administrative posts at MIT.
At Harvard, he has served as president-in-residence of the university’s Graduate School of Education and is currently the Hauser Leader-in-Residence at the Kennedy School of Government’s Center for Public Leadership.
“Where else can one go in one generation from off the boat, with literally nothing, to enjoy the life and opportunity that I and my family have been fortunate to enjoy?” said Bacow in a press conference held Sunday to announce his appointment. “It was higher education that made this all possible.”
Those who know him said Bacow will be a champion for diversity, particularly at a time when the 2017 incoming class was majority non-White for the first time in the university’s 380-year history.
“I really see this as an opportunity to not just serve Harvard, but at this particular moment in time, to serve higher education,” Bacow said. “These are tough times, and it’s the first time in my lifetime when people have questioned the value of going to college, have questioned whether it’s a worthy investment for students and their families, questioned whether or not colleges and universities are worthy of our support.”
Bill Lee, the Harvard Corporation’s senior fellow who chaired the search committee, said Bacow is the right person to lead the university forward.
“Larry is an extraordinarily accomplished, admired and forward-looking university leader, a respected scholar and a respected educator and a truly wonderful human being,” said Lee. “Harvard’s future will be in excellent hands.”