A Presidential Inauguration at Harvard

Every ten years or so, a very special event happens on the Harvard Campus– the Harvard Presidential Inauguration. As a higher education student. I knew I did not want to miss out on the opportunity to see one of this event in action. But, I also felt lucky because I had a special connection to this specific presidential inauguration. Before being named President of Harvard University, Larry Bacow served as the President of Tufts University (my alma mater) for ten years. President Bacow left an indelible mark on Tufts so you can imagine that I was overjoyed when he was named as the next President of Harvard.

The inauguration buzz took over campus starting early in the week, even though the actually ceremony did not take place until Friday, October 5. A group of members from my cohort and I decided to attend together, both out of curiosity and excitement. The entire program was long– about three hours from start to finish– but I learned so much about President Bacow, the history of Harvard, and the goals for the future. I even learned that Dick Light, my professor for “Tackling Tough Challenges in Modern Higher Education” was his thesis advisor!

There were speakers representing all different constituencies in higher education, including presidents of other institutions, members of the Harvard Corporation, alumni, and of course, students. One of the highlights for me was the opening speech by Rafael Reif, the President of MIT (where President Bacow was previously Chancellor). He had everyone in the audience laughing out loud (which surprised me!) and it was evident through his speech the enormous impact that President Bacow had made on the school. Another highlight was the presentation of an original poem written by Amanda Gorman, a junior at the College (you can actually read the poem here!). All in all, the energy in the Yard was infectious. You could tell that every speaker truly admired the work President Bacow had done so far, and is very much looking forward to his leadership at Harvard.

After the inauguration, the entire Harvard community was invited to the “Bacow Block Party”. Harvard Yard was transformed into a fall festival of sorts, complete with decorations, music, and of course, lots of yummy food (like cotton candy and caramel apples). It was fun to celebrate with the entire Harvard community and to be a part of this historic celebration.

We spend a great deal of time in my Proseminar in Higher Education class talking about the role of a university president, and it was meaningful to see that role manifested in such a warm celebration. My professor for Proseminar (Judy McLaughlin) said that if one of us is ever chosen to be a college president, she will come to our inauguration. It is really inspiring to know that I am learning alongside some of the next great leaders in the field of higher education.

Here are some pictures that some members of my cohort took from the inauguration ceremony!

Blog written by Jaime Morgen. Photos provided by Holly Millet and Hilary Casavant.

Author Jaime Morgen

Hi there! My name is Jaime Morgen and I am part of the higher education cohort here at HGSE, as well as one of the four graduate assistants in the HGSE admissions office. I graduated from Tufts University in 2014 with degrees in English, psychology, and entrepreneurial leadership, but knew that I wwanted to work in education. Immediately after graduating, I joined the office of undergraduate admissions first as an admissions counselor, and later as an assistant director of admissions. During my four years in the office, I managed our alumni interviewing program, coordinated events, and managed all print publications. Now that I have stared my graduate studies, I am excited to finally be taking classes relating to higher education and be surrounded by talented, intelligent, and genuine individuals who share similar interests.