Claudine Gay’s election as the second female president of Harvard University and the first person of color to that position marks a pivotal moment in the institution’s history. Gay, 52, has been teaching government and African and African American studies at the university for the past 16 years, according to the university.

She has been the Dean of the Edgerley Family Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard since August 2018. She served as the department’s dean of social science from 2015 to 2018.

The Harvard Gazette announced that on December 15, with the approval of the Board of Overseers, Gay was elected to the presidency by the Harvard Corporation, the University’s primary governing board. On July 1, 2023, she will officially begin her new position.


Gay has released a video in which she discusses her joy and appreciation at being elected president.

“For me, this role is about harnessing the power of ideas and supporting the people who pursue them,” Gay shared. “Few things give me more joy, more energy, than talking to a colleague working in a field that’s new to me or hearing the questions that are on the mind of a new generation of students. These conversations let me see the world with fresh eyes,” she added. 

Gay reflected on the path her parents paved for her, as Haitian immigrants, which led her to a life of learning.

“They came to the U.S. with very little and put themselves through college while raising our family,” she elaborated on their life. In addition, she mentioned that they think that education opens up a world of possibilities.

“They believe that education makes everything possible. Being an academic opened up my world and helped me achieve a dream I could never imagine,” Gay continued.

Prior to obtaining her PhD at Harvard in 1998, Gay graduated with honors and distinction from Stanford University with a B.A. in economics.

The university’s dedication to diversity, equity, inclusion, and community is strengthened by her appointment (DEIB). The Harvard University website reports that of the admitted class of 2026, 15.2 percent identify as African American, up from 12.7 percent in 2020, 27.9 percent identify as Asian American, and 12.6 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino.

As a person of color and the daughter of immigrants, Gay considers it a great honor if her presence in this role helps someone feel more at home at Harvard.

“And for those who are beyond our gates, if this prompts them to look anew at Harvard, to consider new possibilities for themselves and their futures, then my appointment will have meaning for me that goes beyond words,” she said.

Gay pledged to keep up the “powerful legacies” of the leaders who came before her as she reflected on the university’s achievements, which included advancements in artificial intelligence, climate change, and sustainability.

“Our community is a large and diverse team and we are united by a shared commitment to academic excellence and leadership and all the values that ensure it. Embracing those values, especially academic freedom and wide open inquiry, is not only the path to excellence but it’s how we harness our breadth and diversity to build the legacy that our institution deserves,” the new Harvard University concluded.

Congratulations Harvard President-elect Claudine Gay!