Harvard Names First Female President

The Associated Press
Monday, February 12, 2007; 7:52 AM

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Drew Gilpin Faust recalls her mother lecturing her that "this is a man's world, sweetie, and the sooner you learn that, the better off you'll be."

It was a lesson, she wrote in a memoir, that she refused to accept.

On Sunday, Harvard University named Faust the first female president in the school's 371-year history.

"I hope that my own appointment can be one symbol of an opening of opportunities that would have been inconceivable even a generation ago," Faust said. But she also added, "I'm not the woman president of Harvard, I'm the president of Harvard."

A Civil War scholar and respected university insider, Faust, 59, emerged as a candidate considered by the school's governing body to be best suited to cool tensions within the faculty after the tumultuous five-year presidency of Lawrence Summers.

Two years ago, Summers created an uproar when he said that genetic gender differences may explain why few women rise to top science jobs. At the height of the controversy, Faust oversaw two panels that examined gender diversity on campus.

She has been dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study since 2001, two years after the former women's college merged into Harvard as a research center with a mission to study gender issues.

Faust was elected by the seven-member Harvard Corporation, the school's governing body, and ratified by the 30-member Board of Overseers.

With Faust's appointment, half of the eight Ivy League schools have woman presidents. The other three are Amy Gutmann of the University of Pennsylvania, Shirley M. Tilghman of Princeton University, and Ruth J. Simmons of Brown University.

Faust pivots from managing Radcliffe, a think-tank with 87 employees and a $17 million budget, to presiding over Harvard's 11 schools and colleges, 24,000 employees and a budget of $3 billion.

"She will need to scale up and she's shown all the qualities that suggest she'll do that superbly," Gutmann said.

Lydia Barlow, a 26-year-old graduate student of Middle Eastern studies, said Faust is "going to have to be outstanding" because "people see it as a knee-jerk reaction to the comments made by President Summers."

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Associated Press