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Claudine Gay makes history as the first Black person to become Harvard University's president

Claudine Gay breaks barriers by becoming the second woman and first Black person to become Harvard University's President.

Claudine Gay makes history as the first Black person to become Harvard University's president
Cover Image Source: Harvard University

The Black population in America has not had an easy road to get to where they are today. Even now, they're only just getting access to opportunities that their white peers have enjoyed for decades. As they continue to pave the way for future generations, Claudine Gay's recent appointment as the head of Harvard University is yet another huge step for the same objective. She had her inauguration on September 29, wherein she became the second woman and first Black person to lead the university since its inception in 1640, reports CNN. She is the 30th person to take on this mantle and the announcement of her appointment garnered widespread praise from all corners of the world.


 
 
 
 
 
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Gay is aware of the value and legacy associated with this appointment. As someone whose research focuses on race and identity politics, she knows the importance of representation. Amidst rains and an audience huddled under umbrellas, she said during her inauguratio: "I stand before you on this stage with the weight and the honor of being a first." The scholar also expressed gratitude for being given such an opportunity, saying, "I stand before you today humbled by the prospect of leading Harvard, emboldened by the trust you have placed in me and energized by your own commitment to this singular institution and to the common cause of higher education."


 
 
 
 
 
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In her speech, Gay also touched on the aspirations she has for the institution: "The courage of this University—our resolve, against all odds—to question the world as it is and imagine and make a better one: It is what Harvard was made to do." Her appointment has received a positive response both for the barriers it breaks and because it puts an extremely talented individual at the helm of one of the most prestigious institutions in the world.

Image Source: Harvard University
Image Source: Harvard University

Massachusetts Governor and Harvard graduate Maura Healey was ecstatic about the appointment. In her Friday address, Healy said, "President Gay, your presidency is truly historic. You have my admiration and support." Gay's election was done by the Harvard Corporation, the university's principal governing board, after a lot of research. The outgoing president, Lawrence Bacow, also gave his blessings to Gay, saying: "Claudine is a person of bedrock integrity. She will provide Harvard with the strong moral compass necessary to lead this great university. The search committee has made an inspired choice for our 30th president. Under Claudine Gay's leadership, Harvard's future is very bright."


 
 
 
 
 
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According to CNW, Gay was born to Haitian immigrants, who always encouraged her pursuits. After completing her schooling, she was admitted to Stanford University to study economics. She graduated in 1992 and returned to the same university in 2000s as an Associate Professor. Gay has had extensive experience with executive positions in other bodies, which made her a prime candidate for the post. Moreover, she has been vice president of the Midwest Political Science Association and trustee of Phillips Exeter Academy.

Image Source: Harvard University
Image Source: Harvard University

Gay has had a long history with Harvard. She did her Ph.D. from the institution in 1998 and became a member of the faculty eight years later. Her dissertation in Political Science received the Toppan Prize. Before becoming the president, she was the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard. She is also the founding chair of the Inequality in America Initiative. The initiative was launched in 2017 to conduct more research and analysis on social and economic inequality in the country.



 

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