Harvard Taps Former Tufts, MIT Leader Bacow as Next President

Harvard University didn’t have to go far to find its next leader.

On Sunday, the school named Lawrence Bacow its 29th president. Bacow is currently working as a “leader-in-residence” at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Center for Public Leadership. He was on the Cambridge, MA-based university’s presidential search committee before stepping down in order to be considered for the post, Harvard said in its announcement. Bacow previously served as president of nearby Tufts University from 2001 to 2011, and before that he worked at nearby MIT for 24 years as an environmental studies professor, eventually becoming chancellor and chair of the faculty.

Bacow will succeed Drew Faust on July 1. Faust, Harvard’s first woman president, announced her departure last June.

Faust supported a number of campus initiatives related to innovation and entrepreneurship, such as the Harvard Innovation Labs. The labs are part of an effort under Faust to expand and unify Harvard’s entrepreneurial activities, a goal other universities have been working toward as well, including MIT.

Harvard’s entrepreneurial-minded students, faculty, and staff—as well as venture capitalists and corporations—will no doubt be watching to see how the “i-lab” and other campus innovation efforts might evolve under Bacow’s leadership. The university’s announcement about his hiring noted that at Tufts he was known for “fostering innovation in education and research” and “enhancing collaboration across schools and disciplines,” among other characteristics.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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