Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard University president, to receive $1 million award for work in the study of humanity

Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust.
Steven Senne/Associated Press
Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust.

The Library of Congress has announced that the president of Harvard University will be the recipient of a $1 million prize for achievements in the study of humanities and social sciences.

Drew Gilpin Faust, the university’s first female president and a historian of the Civil War and the American South, will be awarded the 2018 John W. Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity, the Library of Congress said Tuesday.

“Through her extensive writing about Southern identity, she has explored themes of deep relevance to our national conversation on race and gender,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in a statement. “As the first female president of Harvard University, she has also led one of the most esteemed educational institutions in the world through a period of intense growth and transformation.”


The Kluge Prize is known to recognize people around the world whose accomplishments in the humanities and social sciences have successfully shaped social and political issues, according to a statement from the Library of Congress.

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Raised in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Faust attended Concord Academy in Massachusetts before receiving her bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College, and her master’s and doctoral degrees in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.

She began serving as Harvard’s president in 2007, and plans to step down on July 1, according to the Harvard Gazette, the university’s official news site. During her time at the university, she was credited with fostering academic collaboration, diversifying the school’s community, and expanding the university’s global footprint, the library said in the statement.

She was also named one of Forbes “100 Most Powerful Women” in 2008 and the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Jefferson Lecturer in 2011. And, she’s written six books, including the Bancroft Prize-winning “This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War.”

“The humanities and social sciences have never been more important to our understanding of society and the increasingly connected world we inhabit,” Faust said in the library’s statement. “They allow us to see the world through the eyes of others, to understand the common hopes and aspirations we share, to cultivate judgment and discernment, and to identify and pursue the questions that must animate our pursuit of a better future.”


The institution will present the award to Faust during a gala ceremony on Sept. 12 in the library’s Great Hall.

Elise Takahama can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @elisetakahama.