Harvard Elects Woman President
Drew Gilpin Faust, a current Harvard dean and history professor, has been named the first woman president of Harvard University. The election of Dr. Faust by the seven-member Harvard Corporation comes after Harvard's former President, Larry Summers, resigned in February 2006. Summers, who came under criticism for saying at an academic conference that women have less innate ability to perform in science and mathematics than men, sparked a public commitment from Harvard to developing women academics and to develop task forces on the status of women at Harvard.
Dr. Faust, 59, graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a bachelor's degree in History and earned her doctorate in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania. Born into a well-off family in the segregated south, Faust recalls rejecting her privilege, racial segregation, and sexism at an early age. "I was the rebel who did not just march for civil rights and against the Vietnam War but who fought endlessly with my mother, refusing to accept her insistence that 'this is a man's world, sweetie, and the sooner you learn that, the better of you'll be,'" Faust wrote in her memoir, the Associated Press reports. With a specialty in the history of the American South, Faust has authored five books and formerly directed the women's studies program at the University of Pennsylvania. She also oversaw two panels at Harvard that examined gender diversity.
National Organization for Women (NOW) President Kim Gandy said of the announcement, "NOW is so pleased that Harvard will finally have a female president -- and it has only taken them 371 years. Larry Summers, we couldn't have done it without you."
Media Resources: AP 2/11/07; The Boston Globe 2/11/07; Christian Science Moitor 2/12/07; New York Times 2/12/07; NOW release