From the News column of the March 2007 Perspectives
Drew Gilpin Faust to Become Harvard University's President
Harvard University, March 2007
Drew Gilpin Faust, distinguished historian, and a former vice president of the AHA's Professional Division (1993–96), will become Harvard University's president from July 1, 2007, the university announced. A renowned expert on the Civil War and the American South, and currently the dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Faust will be the first woman to hold the office of president in the history of the 371-year-old university.
"This is a . . . historic day, for Harvard," said James R. Houghton, chair of the presidential search committee. "Drew Faust is an inspiring and accomplished leader, a superb scholar, a dedicated teacher, and a wonderful human being. She combines a powerful, broad-ranging intellect with a demonstrated capacity for strong leadership and a talent for stimulating people to do their best work, both individually and together. She knows Harvard and higher education, and her interests extend to the whole of the University, across the arts and sciences and the professional domain."
"I am a historian," Drew Gilpin Faust said. "I've spent a lot of time thinking about the past, and about how it shapes the future. No university in the country, perhaps the world, has as remarkable a past as Harvard's. And our shared enterprise is to make Harvard's future even more remarkable than its past. That will mean recognizing and building on what we already do well. It will also mean recognizing what we don't do as well as we should, and not being content until we find ways to do better."
Faust, who grew up in Virginia, received her early education at Concord Academy in Massachusetts and at Bryn Mawr College, where she received her bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, in 1968, with honors in history. She received her master's degree (1971) and doctoral degree (1975) in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.
Before moving to Harvard University, Faust served for 25 years on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. She was appointed as assistant professor in the Department of American Civilization in 1976, associate professor in 1980, and full professor in 1984. She was named the Stanley Sheerr Professor of History in 1988, then served as the Annenberg Professor of History from 1989 to 2000. She chaired the Department of American Civilization for five years, and was director of the Women's Studies Program from 1996 to 2000. She was twice honored at Penn for her distinguished teaching, in 1982 and 1996.
Apart from the American Historical Association where she played an active role, Faust is an active member of many nonprofit boards and professional societies. She is a trustee of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Humanities Center, and Bryn Mawr College, where she chaired the trustee committee on student life from 1998 to 2003. She also serves on the educational advisory board of the Guggenheim Foundation. She was president of the Southern Historical Association, and an executive board member of both the Organization of American Historians and the Society of American Historians. Faust has also served on numerous editorial boards and selection committees, including the jury for the Pulitzer Prize in history in 1986, 1990, and 2004 (chair). She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Society of American Historians.
A prolific writer, Drew Gilpin Faust has written several well-received books. The latest, This Republic of Suffering, to be published in 2008, focuses on the impact of the Civil War's death toll on the lives of 19th-century Americans. Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War (1996) Faust's fifth book, was awarded the Society of American Historians' Francis Parkman Prize. The Creation of Confederate Nationalism: Ideology and Identity in the Civil War South, A Sacred Circle: The Dilemma of the Intellectual in the Old South, 1840–1860, and James Henry Hammond of the Old South: A Design for Mastery are among other books that established her reputation for historical scholarship as well as elegance of expository style.
—Based on Harvard University press release