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What Should Harvard Be Looking For In Its Next President?

President of Harvard University Drew Faust addresses an audience, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, at a forum called Harvard Students Speak Up: A Town Hall on Politics and Public Service, at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, on the campus of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass.
Steven Senne/AP

When it comes to leading one of the world's most prestigious institutions, not just anyone can take on the job. So what qualities should Harvard's next president possess? 

It's a question the university has been grappling with since last summer, when Drew Gilpin Faust — who has held the job for over a decade — announced she would be stepping down in June 2018.

Paul Reville, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and former state secretary of education, joined Boston Public Radio Thursday to weigh in on what the school should be looking for in its new leader. He said Faust deftly guided the university through financial troubles and social changes internally. 

"[Faust] did a good job of stabilizing the university: growing it from a development standpoint, putting an emphasis on some concerns internally about inclusion, about diversity, things of that nature," Reville said.

But he added that the current political climate may push Harvard toward choosing a leader who is willing to be an outspoken defender of higher education on a national stage.

"I think there's a widespread feeling in higher education these days that the whole institution of higher education — the notion of research, the notion of using evidence to make cases on persistent problems in society, and the credibility of universities — is being called into question by the Trump Administration," Reville said. "It may be time where we can afford to have a president who takes some time on that topic."

To listen to Paul Reville's interview in its entirety, click the audio player above.


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