Posted on June 4, 2024

Black Harvard Graduates Celebrate Claudine Gay at Affinity Ceremony

Madeleine A. Hung and Joyce E. Kim, Harvard Crimson, May 23, 2024

Two Harvard graduates presented an award for faculty who show “a strong commitment to social justice” to former Harvard President Claudine Gay during the University-wide celebration of Black graduates on Tuesday evening in Sanders Theatre.

{snip} The event was one of 11 affinity graduation celebrations organized by the Office for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging.

Following opening remarks by Harvard Business School graduate Ian I. Irungu, HBS graduate Jada S. Haynes and Harvard Law School graduate Abigail D. Hall presented the Faculty Award — an award given to a Harvard faculty member who “demonstrates a strong commitment to social justice, and issues related to race, class, and education” — to Gay, who was not in attendance.

Gay served as Harvard’s 30th president, the first Black person in the role in the University’s nearly 400-year history. She resigned on Jan. 2 following allegations of plagiarism and criticisms of her response to antisemitism following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel — making her tenure the shortest in Harvard’s history.

The announcement of Gay as the winner of the award was met with cheers and a standing ovation.

“Dr. Gay’s journey is a profile in grace and courage that has left an indelible mark on this institution. Her legacy within our community cannot be understated,” Hall said. “As the first Black president of Harvard, Dr. Gay shattered glass ceilings, substantiating the highest hopes of minorities who strive in academia.”

Harvard Divinity School Dean Marla Frederick accepted the award on Gay’s behalf.

“On behalf of President Claudine Gay — our forever president — I truly want to thank you all for this award recognizing her strong commitment to social justice and her unwavering commitment to empowering students on their educational journeys,” Frederick said.


“Even though we are marking this celebratory graduation moment without President Gay at the helm the way many of us thought we would when celebrating at her inauguration — and certainly the way I anticipated when she appointed me as Dean of Harvard Divinity school just this past year — I want you to understand that in the midst of all that has transpired, she continues to teach us in both word and deed,” Frederick said.