Harvard University on Thursday (December 15) got its first African American president as it named Claudine Gay, a dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, for the top post. Gay (52) is only the second woman to be elected to head the globally renowned and prestigious university.

Harvard University said that Gay, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, will take over as the university’s 30th president on July 1, 2023.

“Claudine is a remarkable leader who is profoundly devoted to sustaining and enhancing Harvard’s academic excellence,” said Penny Pritzker, chair of Harvard’s presidential search committee.

Gay took the helm of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 2018, steering it through the difficult period of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Today, we are in a moment of remarkable and accelerating change — socially, politically, economically, and technologically,” Gay said after the announcement.

“So many fundamental assumptions about how the world works and how we should relate to one another are being tested,” she added.

One such test is coming for the university. It faces, in july next year, a US Supreme Court decision that may force the university to revise its longstanding admissions process.

Suits have been brought against Harvard and the University of North Carolina, challenging their policy of affirmative action.
That policy emerged from the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1960s to help address the legacy of discrimination in higher education against African Americans.

The suits against Harvard and UNC were brought by a group known as Students for Fair Admissions, which claims that race-conscious admissions policies discriminate against equally qualified applicants of Asian American origin.

(With inputs from agencies)

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