Faculty Honors, and a Farewell

A changing of the guard, in Mass Hall and University Hall

President Lawrence S. Bacow and his successor, FAS Dean Claudine Gay

During their last regular meeting of the academic year, on May 2, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) bid farewell: to President Lawrence S. Bacow; to FAS dean Claudine Gay, who will assume the University presidency upon Bacow’s retirement June 30; and to some exceptionally distinguished former colleagues. The meeting was, in a literal sense, a changing of the guard, but it also conveyed a feeling that one era was ending as another was about to begin. 

Underscoring that sense were opening tributes (termed by tradition “memorial minutes”) to several extraordinary scholars of the prior generation, beginning with the late nuclear physicist and quantum optics pioneer Roy J. Glauber, Mallinckrodt professor of physics emeritus, who enrolled in the College at 16, joined the Manhattan Project at 18, and won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2005; biological oceanographer and climate change scientist James J. McCarthy, Agassiz professor of biological oceanography, an early voice of conscience in raising the alarm about what he termed, in 2005, “climate shock”; architectural historian Eduard F. Sekler, Hooker professor of visual art, professor of architecture in the Graduate School of Design, and first director of the Le Corbusier-designed Carpenter Center in the 1960s; naturalist, ecologist and entomologist Edward O. Wilson, who developed the field of sociobiology with his analyses of ants and, controversially, humans; and the legendary dean Henry Rosovsky, Geyser University Professor emeritus, the architect of the Core Curriculum who twice led FAS, twice served as acting president of the University, and was a Corporation member. In all, an exceptionally distinguished group of faculty members whose broad interests helped shape intellectual discourse in their fields for generations.

Dean Gay then proceeded to annual recognitions of excellence in teaching, advising, and mentoring in a new generation of scholars.

Harvard College Professors

Recipients of FAS’s highest honor for faculty members who make distinguished contributions to undergraduate teaching (in general education and within the concentrations, and in advising and mentoring), and in their work in graduate education and research:

Arts & Sciences Professors

Appointed in recognition of their significant achievements in research and teaching:

Roslyn Abramson Award

CONFERRED for outstanding undergraduate teaching, as demonstrated through the ability to communicate with and inspire undergraduates, accessibility to undergraduates, sensitivity to undergraduates’ needs, and devotion to teaching: 

Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize

PRESENTED by the Undergraduate Council to recognize superb teaching by members of the Harvard faculties who teach undergraduates: 

  • Joshua Kertzer, professor of government and director of graduate studies 

John R. Marquand Award

AN UNDERGRADUATE COUNCIL award for exceptional advising and counseling of undergraduates:

  • Richard Cozzens, preceptor in Arabic in the department of Near Eastern languages and civilizations 

Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award

CONFERRED by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ Graduate Student Council to honor faculty who go out of their way to offer support and guidance to graduate students’ research, education, professional and personal development, and career plans:

The Transitions

Gay then reflected briefly on her deanship, noting that despite the pandemic, FAS was able to continue building a strong faculty: 12 percent of its members have joined during just the last four years. Alluding to the fact that FAS meetings will no longer be run by the president, Gay said she hoped that shift would be regarded as an invitation to question whether practices that made sense a generation ago still meet the faculty’s needs. And she expressed gratitude to faculty members for working with her to effect change, adding that she is restless for a future in which Harvard is the institution that the world needs it to be.

Before adjourning the meeting—the last time a Harvard president will do so—Bacow thanked the faculty for their engagement with him, and Gay for her five years of service as dean of FAS. And he expressed confidence that she has the right qualities to lead the University as president. As he put, she has a “keen mind, hard head, and soft heart.”

Read more articles by: Jonathan Shaw

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