President Faust’s Virtual Beginning-of-Year Message
President Drew Faust—who launched the 2009 academic year with a speech in Sanders Theatre (on the “new normal,” highlighting Harvard after the financial crisis and decline in the value of the endowment; read her text), and the 2010 year with a conversation with former ABC news anchor Charlie Gibson (also in Sanders)—this year reverted to an e-mail message, with a twist: a brief video clip disseminated on September 7.
The "welcome message"—with Faust standing in her Massachusetts Hall office and narrating as images flash by of the campus, arriving freshmen, faculty and students at work and at leisure, and of challenges in the outside world (energy, global health, and economic prosperity among them)—is highly thematic. Faust refers to Harvard combining a "deep sense of history with…an ambitious outlook on the future." She expresses her hope that new and returning students "will learn and thrive at Harvard." And she covers what are surely emerging, overarching themes for the University's prospective capital campaign: "re-imagining teaching and learning;" finding solutions to those major social challenges; studying history and cultures in order to become more humane citizens; and pursuing innovations that contribute to future opportunity and prosperity.
For a somewhat longer-perspective view from the president—covering issues ranging from the University’s international ambitions to its aims in science, the arts, and improving pedagogy—read this interview with Faust from Harvard Magazine’s current 375th-anniversary issue. Faust also spoke at Morning Prayers in Memorial Church on August 31—the first day of classes; in those remarks, she put the University’s anniversary year in historical perspective.