Welcome back!

January 28, 2019

Dear FAS community,

It is my pleasure to welcome you back for the start of the spring semester!  I hope you’re returning to campus feeling rested, renewed, and ready for the excitement that spring term will bring. 

My first six months as dean of the FAS have been an eye-opening journey of discovery, as I’ve continued to learn new and inspiring things about the place I’ve long called my academic home. While touring the next House slated to undergo renewal, I discovered the Adams House tunnel, where generations of students have left their mark through paintings and poems that are funny, insightful, quirky, and beautiful. I met the faculty from Philosophy and Computer Science who together have launched Embedded EthiCS, a cross-disciplinary partnership where Harvard is leading in conversations about the ethical dimensions of technology. As a first-year adviser, I’ve had the privilege and delight of walking alongside students in their first months as members of our community. It’s been interesting to hear about the paths that led them here, but even more so to talk with them about what comes next in their Harvard story. Those conversations have made it abundantly clear to me that there is more than one way to do Harvard. I’ve also been graciously welcomed into offices and labs across campus, like Xiaowei Zhuang’s, where I marveled at her Breakthrough Prize-winning research in super-resolution imaging and the new opportunities in scientific discovery it will enable, and Parimal Patil’s, where I learned of the treasure of Sanskrit manuscripts in Tibet that may offer new insights into Buddhist philosophy. 

Over this time, in many conversations with faculty, staff, and students across the FAS, I also have heard about the ways in which Harvard has an opportunity to do more, to grow, to evolve in the pursuit of our mission. We are finding ways to make sure that good ideas aren’t crowded out by cumbersome process. We are making room for new voices, and learning new tools and practices for achieving inclusive excellence. We are continuing the work every day to build a community where our teaching, research, and work are carried out in an environment of trust and respect. 

We do these things because Harvard is a place of discovery. That demands of us curiosity about the things we don’t know and don’t yet understand, the courage to pursue new directions, even (perhaps especially) when we don’t know where it will lead, and the appetite to take on hard problems because finding solutions matters. Now more than ever, I am convinced of this community’s ability to take on this vital work, and I’m excited to keep discovering and learning from and alongside all of you. Welcome back!

Sincerely yours, 

Claudine Gay 
Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences