Lawrence Bacow began his new job as president of Harvard University this month, taking over for Drew Gilpin Faust as she stepped down after 11 years at the helm.

Paul Reville, former state secretary of education and professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, says he believes Bacow sees himself not just as a booster for Harvard but also for the importance of higher education.

"His larger message is to carry, I think, the larger value proposition for higher education to America more generally: That research matters, that evidence matters, that education is ever more important to being successful in career and in life," Reville said. "He's indicated that he's not just talking about private elite higher education like Harvard, but he's talking about public, community colleges, state universities, all this."

Reville pointed to one of Bacow's first moves as president: announcing a collaboration between Harvard and institutions in his hometown of Pontiac, Michigan. Of the partnership, Bacow said he wants to show how institutions of higher education can benefit communities like the industrial town he grew up in — not just wealthy cities on the coast.

"I think he wants to be a spokesperson for the value of higher education, for the integrity of higher education, and the centrality of higher education to this nation's future," Reville said. "I think he'll be a good, strong spokesperson for that."