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The 2018 Harvard Medalists

July-August 2018

Clockwise from top left: Robert Coles, Robert N. Shapiro, Alice Welch, and Drew Gilpin Faust
Photographs by Jim Harrison

Clockwise from top left: Robert Coles, Robert N. Shapiro, Alice Welch, and Drew Gilpin Faust
Photographs by Jim Harrison

Three alumni—and surprise honorand Drew Gilpin Faust—received the Harvard Medal for extraordinary service to the University during the Harvard Alumni Association’s annual meeting on the afternoon of Commencement day. 

Robert Coles ’50 is a child psychiatrist whose tenure at Harvard spanned from 1963 to 2007, when he retired as the James Agee professor of social ethics at the Graduate School of Education. Known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning book series Children of Crisis and for other influential research, he has also received a MacArthur Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Eminent psychiatrist, prolific author, and beloved Harvard professor whose work bridges cultural and curricular boundaries, you have exemplified the pursuit of Veritas in your lifelong study of morality and the lives of children around the world—cultivating empathy and inspiring generations to heed the call of service through your profound storytelling, your insightful teaching, and your dedicated volunteerism.  

Robert N. Shapiro ’72, J.D. ’78, began his career as an attorney at the Boston firm Ropes & Gray, was a partner in the private client group from 1987 to 2016, and is currently CEO at Ropes Wealth Advisors. He is also president of the trustees of the Peabody Essex Museum.

Alumni leader, stalwart volunteer, and trusted advisor with a view of Harvard that spans decades and disciplines, you have strengthened the University through your distinguished service—demonstrating a remarkable breadth and depth of knowledge, a rare combination of good judgment and good humor, and an enduring commitment to education as a force for positive change. 

Alice “Acey” Welch ’53 worked to help launch and lead the Committee for the Equality of Women at Harvard and the Alumnae-i Network for Harvard Women, serving as president of that organization from 2014 to 2016 (for which she received the HAA Outstanding Clubs and SIGs Contribution Award). 

With a firm but gentle hand, a bold but inclusive voice, and a resolute but optimistic spirit, you have driven change through your tireless advocacy for gender equity at Harvard and beyond, unifying alumnae and alumni across Schools and class years in common cause—to expand and enhance opportunities for women both on and off campus.

Drew Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard University since 2007, is set to step down on June 30. Announcement of the award prompted a standing ovation and extended applause. 

Esteemed historian with a keen respect for the past and an inspirational vision for the future, you have authored a remarkable chapter in Harvard’s story, leading the University forward with wisdom, courage, and integrity. Pioneering president and global ambassador for higher education, you opened wider the gates of Harvard to students from all backgrounds and deepened Harvard’s engagement with the world beyond. Breaking new ground, literally and figuratively—you revitalized living and learning spaces on both sides of the river and fostered unprecedented cross-disciplinary collaboration between Schools. You promoted experimentation in the arts and sciences—seeding bold discoveries and innovative ventures, and nurturing creative expression and humanistic inquiry. Through change and through storm, you knit together a more inclusive and diverse University community, built on the conviction that every person here should feel that I, too, am Harvard.

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