Welcome Back!

August 27, 2018
Dear FAS Community,
 
It is a pleasure to welcome you back to Harvard for the start of a new academic year, and to do so in my first message as Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
 
Fall is a season of new beginnings: First-year students in the College are moving into their dorms; G1s are participating in orientation; new faculty are settling into their offices, labs, and studios. Their arrival offers our whole community an opportunity for renewal, and reminds us again of the power of new ideas and new perspectives to push us all forward in our work. My own fresh start required only a few boxes and one flight of stairs, but already it has revealed a whole new world. I am excited about what’s to come. 
 
Recently, I strolled past my first home at Harvard, a studio apartment in Haskins Hall. When I moved in as a first-year graduate student, my parents supplied me with what seemed to us at the time to be most essential to my success: a futon, a Mac Classic II, and a cast iron skillet for frying plantains. What I quickly learned, however, is that what would sustain and inspire me was the richness and vitality of the Harvard community. I had arrived at the place where the caravans meet, and was transformed by the experience. This is what motivated my return to Harvard as a faculty member years later, and why I embraced the opportunity to be FAS Dean. 
 
Over the last few weeks, I have received emails, texts, and phone calls all giving me the same piece of advice: consult the owner’s manual. And now, with equal parts delight and stunned amazement, I am making my way through Henry Rosovsky’s “The University: An Owner’s Manual,” which draws on his experiences as FAS Dean to advise, with more candor than I thought possible, someone in my exact situation. It is a relief that, through it all, he said he found being dean to be “a vastly enriching experience.” I have been assured by another knowledgeable source that this is “the best job” I will ever have.
 
Now, with my boxes unpacked, I am eager to start listening, learning, and exploring parts of the FAS that are new to me. I am grateful to the many colleagues who already have invited me to visit with them and to hear about the ideas, inspirations, and challenges that give purpose to their work. I look forward to knocking on doors throughout the FAS. It is in conversation with the members of our community that my agenda will take shape.  
 
This season of new beginnings is also an opportunity to remind ourselves of enduring commitments. We aspire to excellence in teaching, research, and creative expression; to an environment in which every member of our community can do their best work and achieve their full potential; to preparing our students for lives of leadership and service to the world. Alongside these institutional commitments I offer my personal commitments to transparency, equity, and diversity that will continue to guide my work on behalf of the FAS.  I look forward to collaborating with you to advance our shared mission. Welcome back to Harvard!
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Claudine Gay
Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences