Meet the Haitian-American woman who’s Harvard’s new Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science

July 25, 2018
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The Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) is about to be blessed with the presence of Black academic excellence as Claudine Gay, renowned political scientist and academic, takes the mantle as the faculty’s new Dean. Gay was the FAS Dean of Social Science and is the founding chair of Harvard’s Inequality in America Initiative.

Gay has done extensive research on American political behavior and has dedicated her academic journey to issues such as “the relationship of citizens’ trust in government to the racial identity of their elected representatives, the ways neighborhood conditions influence racial and political attitudes, the roots of competition and cooperation between minority groups, and the consequences of housing-mobility programs for political participation among the poor.” Having a Haitian-American daughter of immigrants with extensive knowledge of political behavior leading an entire faculty in one of the world’s most infamous ‘Private White Institutions’ is the kind of transformation that could bring about meaningful change on a campus like Harvard.

“She is a scholar of uncommon creativity and rigor, with a strong working knowledge of the opportunities and challenges facing the FAS. She radiates a concern for others, and for how what we do here can help improve lives far beyond our walls.” Harvard President Larry Bacow

Gay’s parents came over to the U.S roughly 50 years ago, meeting in New York where her mother studied to become a nurse and her father studied engineering. As a child of immigrants, she grew up with expectations that she would pursue the kind of fields that her family considered legible enough to guarantee economic security – academia wasn’t on her radar until she stepped into it. Claudine is also described as having “superb judgment, wide-ranging intellectual curiosity, and a leadership style that combines strength, aspiration, and compassion,” further revealing how impressive she is when you take into account that she is Stanford (B.A Economics) and Harvard (Ph.D in Government) educated. Gay won awards for both her thesis in Economics and dissertation in political science.

“It’s possible to pursue, not only educational choices that are legible to your family and that provide a sense of economic security but also pursue your intellectual passions; I think bringing that kind of sensitivity to my interactions with students, that’s something that’s so deeply influenced by my own experience as a daughter of Haitian immigrants.” – Claudine Gay

Gay is the real deal. She is a bastion of black excellence and it’s clear that it runs in the family because she is the cousin of renowned author and academic Roxane Gay. The prospects of this appointment are exciting, but we’re also living for all this intellectual black girl magic coming out of the Gay family!