Welcome back!

September 3, 2019

Dear FAS community,

Welcome back! I hope you had a restful summer and are returning to campus refreshed and recharged for a new academic year. My summer travels brought me and my family abroad to places we’d never been before; a bustling, cosmopolitan city with a complex history and an island so green and quaint and orderly as to make the world seem very manageable, indeed. Learning about the past and present of these places, and meeting folks who call them home, reminded me, as travel often does, that there are so many other ways of being in the world—other paces, patterns, and stories. My literary companions on these journeys included Tara Westover’s Educated, itself an experience in perspective taking and a memoir I’m sure to return to for its thoughtful reflections on the power of the liberal arts. 

The year ahead promises more opportunities for learning and discovery. At Harvard, it’s the unknown that gets us energized, the potential for uncovering knowledge that is just out of reach. Our ambition is expressed each day in our search for new truths and deeper understanding of everything from the neurobiology of fruit flies and the interactions of binary stars, to Renaissance literary culture, the role of AI in healthcare, and (perhaps the most mystifying of all) the social behavior of kids and teens.

As a community dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, we have a particular interest in bringing forward many voices, ideas, and points of view. The more perspectives we have, the more we see, and the more comprehensive our understanding can be, across all disciplines. Thus, our intellectual ambition inspires our efforts to forge a diverse community grounded in trust and respect, where opportunities abound for the kind of mutual exchange that generates new knowledge and expands what we know about the world around us. 

I’m excited by the work we do together every day to push the frontiers of knowledge. Together we preserve the promise of Harvard as a place of unlimited possibility, as the place where you come to do your best work. It’s this promise that draws new students, faculty and staff to our community, year after year. Each arrival contributes to the reinvigoration of Harvard’s pursuit of excellence, like oxygen refreshing the body as a whole. I look forward to another year of Harvard, in all its curiosity, creativity, and hunger for new perspectives, and the community that we create together that makes it all possible.


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