Ceremony To Kick Off Faust Tenure

Date set for inauguration ceremony; 'I’m slightly terrified,' says new president

Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, Governor Deval L. Patrick ’78, and a host of Harvard luminaries are set to speak at Drew G. Faust’s inauguration ceremony next month, the event that will formally install Harvard’s 28th president.

The two-day celebration, which includes musical performances and symposia and culminates with Faust’s installation, will feature not only renowned figures, but also Faust’s longtime friends and family members, including nine former teachers dating back to her days in elementary school in Virginia.

Faust was appointed in February and has been managing the University since July 1. These ceremonies, which will be held on Oct. 11 and 12, are a formal University-wide kickoff to her presidency.

“I’m slightly terrified,” Faust said yesterday, adding that she invited her former teachers to walk in the procession because “it would be a nice way to honor teaching by honoring them.”

University Marshal Jackie A. O’Neill, who is in charge of organizing the event, said it would “blend the traditional things that one might say are important to Harvard’s history,” while Faust will select new elements to make the ceremony her own.

Following a centuries-old precedent, Faust will receive several Harvard artifacts, including the College record book, two seals and a set of keys—meant to open the “doors of knowledge,” O’Neill said.

Faust will add an element absent from previous Harvard presidential installations—African drumming and a performance by Sangeet, a Harvard College South Asian music group—O’Neill added.

In another historical first, Harvard’s three most recent presidents, Neil L. Rudenstine, Lawrence H. Summers, and Derek C. Bok, will be present on the platform during Faust’s installation, which will take 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 12.

“I wanted to show that there is a kind of solidarity...a notion of their investment in my success,” Faust said.

Unlike Summers, Faust has chosen to attend the morning church services that day and to make the event “quite personal” by including performances and readings from family members.

In the official ceremony, Faust will receive formal greetings from members from Harvard’s governing boards; Undergraduate Council President Ryan A. Petersen ’08, representing the student body; University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann ’71, on behalf of higher education; and 92-year-old historian John Hope Franklin, in honor of Faust’s academic training as a Civil War historian.

But the main focus of the event will be Faust’s speech, where she is expected to lay out some of her main goals, though she has said she will not present a detailed list of priorities, as Summers did in 2001.

Faculty of Arts and Sciences spokesman Robert P. Mitchell said yesterday that classes would not be called off for the event, but several teachers have canceled their Oct. 12 class meeting in their syllabi.

While the installation ceremony in Tercentenary Theatre will be open for all to attend, other events, including the musical performances and the symposia, will be ticketed.

—Staff writer Claire M. Guehenno can be reached at