Claudine Gay, The Child of Haitian Immigrants Is Set To Become The First Black President of Harvard University

Claudine Gay

Claudine Gay, whose parents are from Haiti is set to become the first-ever black President of Harvard University since 1636. She will assume office on July 1, 2023, becoming the 30th president in Harvard’s 386 years history.

Claudine’s parents are immigrants who emigrated from Haiti to the United States for greener pastures. Her parents got to know each other during their time in New York as students. Her father was at the time studying engineering whilst her mother was studying nursing. Her father worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Saudi Arabia where Gay spent much of her childhood years before returning to the United States with her father to continue schooling.

Gay attended Phillips Exeter Academy, one of the oldest secondary schools in the United States and among its most prestigious. She then studied Economics at the prestigious Stanford University, where she received the Anna Laura Myers Prize for the best undergraduate thesis in Economics. In 1992, she graduated from Stanford University, leaving an indelible mark. Six years later, in 1998, Gay earned her Ph.D. from Harvard University and also won Harvard’s Toppan Prize for best dissertation in political science.

After an excellent academic journey at Stanford as a student, Gay became an assistant professor of political science for five incredible years (2000-2005) at the university. She was an associate professor from 2005-2006.


In 2006, Harvard came knocking. Gay was recruited to Harvard as a professor in government. The following year, she was appointed a professor of African and American Studies. In 2015, she was named the Wilbur A. Cowett Professor of Government. Her academic excellence continues as she led the School of Social Science as a Dean from 2015 to 2018. As her Deanship tenure ended, Gay led Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences as the Edgerley Family Dean and has been there since 2018.

In her role as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, Gay has led initiatives to increase student access and opportunities, encourage excellence and innovation in research and teaching, strengthen certain facets of the academic culture at the FAS, and give fresh attention and energy to subjects like quantum science and engineering, climate change, ethnicity, indigeneity, and migration, as well as the humanities.

With consistency and effectiveness, she has successfully guided the Faculty of Arts and Science through the COVID epidemic while putting the protection of community health and maintaining academic continuity and advancement first. In order to achieve academic excellence in the next years, she has also started and directed an ambitious, inclusive, faculty-driven strategic planning process. This approach aims to examine basic components of the FAS’s academic structures, resources, and operations from a new perspective.

Gay is a renowned expert on political behaviour who studies the relationship between race and politics in America. She has studied issues including how minority officeholders’ election impacts citizens’ opinions of their government and interest in politics and public affairs, how neighborhood environments influence racial and political attitudes among Black Americans, the origins of competition and cooperation between minority groups, with a focus on relationships between Black Americans and Latinos, and the effects of housing mobility programs for political parties.

Gay is a committed teacher and mentor whose classes have covered subjects including American politics, Black politics in the post-Civil Rights era, American political conduct, and democratic citizenship. She is the founding chair of the Inequality in America Initiative, a multidisciplinary effort launched in 2017.

Gay, a fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She now holds positions on the boards of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Phillips Exeter Academy, and the Pew Research Center. She also participated in the advisory committee on racial justice in higher education for the American Association of Universities.

Author: Abu Bakarr Jalloh

Abu Bakarr Jalloh is a Sierra Leonean content writer, author, Neo Pan-African and founder of The African Dream, an online platform for inspiring, positive and compelling African stories. Contact: WhatsApp: +23276211583