Harvard students impressed by new president’s credentials

Harvard president Lawrence S. Bacow.
Harvard president Lawrence S. Bacow. (Dina Rudick/Globe Staff)

CAMBRIDGE — Harvard students on Monday said they are impressed with the academic credentials of newly tapped university president Lawrence S. Bacow, even if a few said they were disappointed the school did not choose a woman or racial minority.

“I can’t help but be a bit disappointed that the selection committee could not find anyone who wasn’t a . . . white straight man to do the job,” said Jazil Waris, an undergraduate from Pakistan.

Nevertheless, Waris said he is excited about Bacow, the 66-year-old former president of Tufts University.

The Harvard Corporation, the university’s governing body, announced its choice of Bacow on Sunday afternoon. He succeeds Drew Faust, who plans to step down at the end of June.


“I hope he is a president who is not too shy about making political decisions with the Harvard endowment because Harvard has a unique role in shaping public opinion and must end up on the right side of history,” Waris said.

On campus Monday, many students rushing to class said they hadn’t read the e-mail the school sent yesterday about the new president and didn’t know much about him.

“He seems like a really good dude,” said Isaiah Wingfield, a freshman from Burlington, N.J., outside the science center.

Wingfield said he enjoyed his first semester and isn’t sure what the new president could do to make it better.

Jack Yan, a freshman from Wellington, Fla., said he likes the student diversity at Harvard and hopes that will continue.

“It’s rare I’ll have this opportunity to be with peers this diverse,” Yan said.

Michal Kozuchowski, a freshman from Poland, said he likes Bacow because of his efforts to improve financial aid at Tufts and hopes he will continue that effort at Harvard.

Matthew Miller, a freshman from Illinois, said he hopes the president, the son of immigrants, will advocate for students who are part of the DACA program, which protects young immigrants brought to the country illegally.


In his remarks on Sunday after his appointment was made public, Bacow talked about his own refugee parents and pledged to support such students.

Nishita Sinha, a freshman from New Jersey, said she is sad the school will no longer have a female president.

“I think that Drew Faust and the amazing job she did helped us see women in more powerful, educational, and incredible positions,” she said

Still, she said she is glad Bacow has a background in environmental studies.

“Hopefully he will help Harvard focus on environmental issues,” she said.

Laura Krantz can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @laurakrantz.