President Faust?

This initial report contains background on Faust’s Harvard service to date...

Drew Gilpin Faust

The Crimson went live at 11:57 p.m. on February 8 with a web report that Drew Gilpin Faust, dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, will be Harvard’s twenty-eighth president ( A Board of Overseers meeting is being scheduled for this Sunday and an announcement event is being arranged for that afternoon. The Overseers would be asked to grant the Corporation’s request to hold an election; to hear the report of the nine-person search committee (including the six Corporation members other than President Derek Bok); and then to determine whether to concur in the recommendation. (The process is described fully in the magazine’s account of the election of Lawrence H. Summers as twenty-seventh president in 2001; see “Homecoming,” May-June 2001, page 57. See more links below on Radcliffe and Faust.) Assuming that the report is correct, this magazine will provide full coverage on-line immediately following the official announcement this weekend, with links also to the Harvard University website ( This initial report contains background on Faust’s Harvard service to date.

Faust was appointed in April 2000 to be the founding dean of the Radcliffe Institute, effective at the beginning of 2001 (see “For Radcliffe: A ‘Founding Dean,’” May-June 2000, page 63; “Radcliffe Consults Its Compass,” May-June 2001, page 62, for early institute plans; and the institute website,, for current information on its activities). As dean, Faust has:

  • overseen the creation of a multidisciplinary institute for advanced study, whose core is a program of year-long fellowships for scholars and artists—women and men—in all fields (Radcliffe had previously had its Bunting Fellows program, with a different focus);
  • transferred former Radcliffe College training programs (in publishing and landscape architecture) to other institutional homes, closed other programs that no longer fit the new Radcliffe Institute mission, and reduced staffing and operating expenses;
  • directed a comprehensive campus plan for the institute, and completed renovation or reconstruction of the Schlesinger Library, the former Radcliffe Gym, and, now in planning, Byerly Hall; and
  • undertaken significant fundraising for the institute’s fellowships and programs.

In early 2005, President Summers appointed Faust to direct two University task forces, on women faculty, and on women in science and engineering. (See “Gender Gap,” March-April 2005, page 62; “Tenure Task Forces,” May-June 2005, page 67; and, for a review of the task forces’ sweeping recommendations on faculty development, diversity, and changes in Harvard policy, “Engineering Equity,” July-August 2005, page 55.)

That experience—and the Radcliffe Institute’s role in assessing the intellectual work of scholars in the humanities, social sciences, life and physical sciences, the arts, and public policy—have given Faust a much broader overview of faculty members’ work across a research university than would be typical for most professors with an arts-and-sciences background. Moreover, the 2005 task forces and the Radcliffe Institute’s role in nurturing the work of younger faculty members both involve extensive exposure to what may be the University’s central challenge (even beyond such ambitious projects as building the Allston campus and the fundraising to pay for it): identifying, supporting, and creating the conditions for the next generation of scholars to advance as professors in the modern academy.

Faust addressed the characteristics of Harvard leadership at length when she was one of the speakers at the unveiling of the official portrait of Neil L. Rudenstine, president emeritus, last May 1 (see “Presidential Portrait,” July-August 2006, page 60). On that occasion, as the magazine reported,

Faust extracted [from Rudenstine’s speeches] recurring phrases that she felt expressed his values—among them “mutuality in conversation and human relations,” and “engagement balanced by…wise skepticism.” In closing, Faust applied to Rudenstine words by Nelson Mandela—“A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind”—language that Rudenstine himself had cited during the 1998 honorary-degree ceremony for Mandela.

Faust, who is also Lincoln professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, is an acclaimed historian of the Civil War, best known for Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War, winner of the Francis Parkman Prize in 1997. She is a trustee of Bryn Mawr, from which she graduated in 1968. (Faust received her master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, on whose faculty she served from 1975 to 2000). She is also a trustee of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Humanities Center.

She described her own experience of growing up in segregated Virginia during the era of Brown v. Board of Education in this magazine’s May-June 2003 cover story, “Living History.”

Her progressive journey northeast from Virginia to Pennsylvania to Massachusetts has led Faust to establish new roots and to make adjustments to new circumstances. She and her husband, Charles Rosenberg, Monrad professor of the social sciences, an acclaimed historian of medicine, have long enjoyed a summer home on Cape Cod, where Faust spent a sabbatical semester in the spring of 2006 working on a new book (on death in the Civil War; see “The Deadliest War,” May-June 2001, page 15). And in making the initial move from Penn to Radcliffe, she has confessed, Faust had to make a stressful adjustment from the National League Phillies to the American League Red Sox, explaining, “I don’t believe in the designated hitter.”

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