A member of the Harvard faculty since 2006 and the FAS dean of social science since 2015, Gay is the Wilbur A. Cowett Professor of Government and of African and African American Studies and is the founding chair of Harvard’s Inequality in America Initiative. She will assume her new duties on Aug. 15, succeeding Michael D. Smith, who will step down after 11 years in the post.
“Claudine Gay is an eminent political scientist, an admired teacher and mentor, and an experienced leader with a talent for collaboration and a passion for academic excellence,” Bacow said in announcing the appointment. “She is a scholar of uncommon creativity and rigor, with a strong working knowledge of the opportunities and challenges facing the FAS. She radiates a concern for others, and for how what we do here can help improve lives far beyond our walls. I am confident she will lead the FAS with the vitality and the values that characterize universities at their best.”
“It is hard to imagine a more exciting opportunity than to learn from and lead the faculty, staff, and students of the FAS,” Gay said. “I am reminded daily that ours is an extraordinary community — diverse, ambitious, and deeply committed to teaching and research excellence. We are all drawn here, each in our own way, by a passion for learning, a search for deeper understandings, and a will to serve the common good. I look forward to working together to advance our shared mission, one never more important than it is now.”
Gay’s research and teaching focus on American political behavior, public opinion, and minority politics, with a particular interest in understanding the political choices of ordinary people and how those choices are shaped by their social, political, and economic environments. Her scholarship has addressed such issues as the relationship of citizens’ trust in government to the racial identity of their elected representatives, the ways neighborhood conditions influence racial and political attitudes, the roots of competition and cooperation between minority groups, and the consequences of housing-mobility programs for political participation among the poor.