Sunday, October 14, 2007

madame president

i have to say - i wasn't planning on going to Drew Faust's installation this past week, but I'm glad I ended up there. in my experience Harvard University is not the most enjoyable place as a minority or as a woman, but i actually felt a little bubbling of optimism inside me as i stood in the rain and watched Harvard's first female president in 371 years accept the responsibility that comes with that heavy load. i think you may know by now that i'm not one for optimism, but what can i say? i think i have a bit of a crush.

President Faust really went all out making sure her installation was focused less on tradition and more on positive change. all of the food and materials for her installation weekend were locally made and grown. she requested that her procession be led in by the pan-african dance troupe. she invited all of her teachers from elementary school on to be a part of the "president's division" at the ceremonies, because each of them helped her get where she is today. i mean seriously. what DIDN'T she think of? she's fabulous.

her speech was also clearly well thought-out. she challenged criticisms of higher education today: "Those who long for a lost golden age of higher education," she pointed out, "should think about the very limited population that alleged utopia actually served." she was humble but inspiring. and she ended on a humorous note:
"Last week I was given a brown manila envelope that had been entrusted to the University Archives in 1951 by James B. Conant, Harvard’s 23rd president. He left instructions that it should be opened by the Harvard president at the outset of the next century “and not before.” I broke the seal on this mysterious package to find a remarkable letter from my predecessor. It was addressed to 'My dear Sir.'"
my point: for once i'm not feeling particularly rageful. i think the coming years will bring improvements at Harvard, especially for those of us who felt less than welcome under the slightly less inspirational figure of Lawrence H. Summers.

My dear Madame, welcome to Harvard.


kidbonita said...

good luck to ms. faust.

kelly lee said...

when she was at radcliffe they called her chainsaw because she fired so many people... i hope she keeps it clasy and doesn't start firing poor brown people all over the place because i would sure hate to hate her guts.