Son of Holocaust survivor named next Harvard University president

Lawrence Bacow, whose mother survived Auschwitz, will become Harvard’s 29th president.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

Harvard University has named Lawrence Bacow its 29th president.

Bacow served as president of Tufts University for a decade and is currently a leader-in-residence at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Center for Public Leadership.

He will take over from Drew Faust, 70, who has served in the post for more than a decade as Harvard’s first female president. Bacow assumes the office July 1, when Faust steps down.

Before becoming president of Tufts, Bacow spent 24 years on the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he served as chancellor and chair of the faculty.

Bacow’s appointment became official on Sunday after he was elected by the Harvard Corporation.

The 66-year-old is a native of Pontiac, Michigan, and son of immigrants — his father was a refugee from the pogroms of Eastern Europe and his mother was a survivor of Auschwitz who arrived in the United States after World War II at the age of 19, the only surviving Jewish member of her town.

Bacow said he sees his new post as president as an opportunity to serve.

“Harvard made me better. It was here I learned that I was a teacher at heart. It was here that I discovered that I wanted to devote my life to scholarship. It was here that I nurtured my passion for higher education. And it was here that I discovered who I really was,” Bacow said during a press conference after the announcement.

William Lee, chair of Harvard’s presidential search committee, said the names of more than 700 people were suggested as possible candidates for president. He said the committee consulted with a range of individuals — including faculty, students, staff and alumni — before making a final decision.

University President Lawrence H. Summers, who served between 2001–2006, was Harvard’s first Jewish president.