Congratulations President Faust


Here at The Record we were shocked, shocked, to learn that our new university president is a feminist. Why, a president who says in a speech to Harvard students:

You enter an institution that has made a commitment to the equality of all members of the community, regardless of gender; this is a university that has articulated its dedication to the success of every student, male or female. But I invoke the past today to remind you that such commitments are not deeply rooted in Harvard’s history, that they require a transformation rather than an extension of tradition, and that such transformation requires work and attentiveness. An institution that less than a century ago defined itself as an incubator for virility is still working out how fully to incorporate women.

Yes, shocking, indeed. Or so at least one of our colleagues at the Crimson and conservative bloggers nationwide seem to think.

In all seriousness, that we live in a nation where Drew Gilpin Faust is criticized for words like those quoted above is reason enough to champion the appointment of not only an unabashed feminist, but also a historian. Harvard should welcome a president that is willing to put the issues that divide the campus into some kind of context for a change. That Faust is acutely aware that this university does not operate in an ideological vacuum is more important and more timely than we can express.

That she appears also to be an able, competent administrator is a bonus. Running Radcliffe may not be equivalent in scale to running the university as a whole (or, in fact, the law school), but it is not child’s play. Six years of managing an institution with a broad scholarly mandate, combined with six years of dealing with Harvard politics, is enough time to gain the necessary experience and to demonstrate one’s own mettle.

Additionally, we at The Record can only breathe a sigh of relief that Faust’s appointment leaves Dean Kagan with us a bit longer. Being self-centered, we have no problem keeping for ourselves Kagan’s abilities in building consensus, hiring top-notch faculty from diverse ideological backgrounds, and raising student satisfaction. But this raises a concern as well: we can only hope that Faust wasn’t picked because Dean Kagan was considered somehow unsuitable. Because then Harvard would have a lot of angry law students to deal with.

But in the meantime, we congratulate President Faust, we’re charmed by the Dean’s thank-you party and student-signed thank-you book, and we hope that our successors will be writing a similar editorial in a couple of years lauding the appointment of Justice Kagan to the United States Supreme Court.