Lawrence S. Bacow, the 29th president of Harvard University, announced Wednesday that he will step down on June 30, 2023.
Widely regarded as one of the nation’s pre-eminent higher education leaders, Bacow conveyed his decision in a message to the Harvard community. Remembering the “awe” he felt upon arriving at the University as a graduate student in 1972, he went on to thank and pay tribute to students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
“Fifty years later, I am still in awe but for different reasons,” he wrote. “It is you whom I hold in awe — our students who inspire me with your passion to make the world a better place, our faculty who push the boundaries of knowledge in just about every field of human endeavor imaginable, our staff who over the past few years have demonstrated resilience, commitment, and dedication that is nothing short of remarkable, and our alumni who shape the world in ways too numerous to mention.”
Having led Harvard through the pandemic, Bacow is also credited with advancing the University’s academic mission and encouraging efforts to bring disciplines together to tackle complex global challenges such as the climate crisis. He has served as a passionate advocate for the free exchange of ideas and for international students and scholars and has set Harvard on course for a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive future while reckoning with its history. Under his leadership, Harvard also has made progress on its growing campus in Allston, including steps to bring the American Repertory Theater to the neighborhood, and has launched innovations in teaching and learning to enhance opportunities for both on-campus students and remote learners.
“There is never a good time to leave a job like this, but now seems right to me,” Bacow wrote in his message. “We have worked together to sustain Harvard through change and through storm, and collectively we have made Harvard better and stronger in countless ways. I will depart Mass Hall with many fond memories to share with my children and grandchildren, and Adele and I are both looking forward to spending more time with each of them.”