Drew Faust, the president of Harvard, will step down next year, a move that’s leaving one of the biggest jobs in higher education up for grabs.

“She’s made incredible contributions as a leader of this institution, which is very important to this area and certainly to the country,” said former Secretary of Education Paul Reville, during an interview on Boston Public Radio today.

Reville referenced Faust’s efforts to keep the school steady in the wake of the recession, as well as some early efforts toward bringing more students of color and those from lower income households to the hallowed halls of Harvard.

“She’s taken actions long before some of the more celebrated actions about diversity and inclusion, about recognizing the past of some of these universities in terms of slavery and things of that nature,” he said.

He also said Faust filled the role “extraordinarily well” given that it carries a lot of weight dictating the role of higher education in society.

For example, Harvard sparked many conversations with its edX initiative that offers free courses online. Reville said Faust and Harvard set a trend for “trying to strike a balance” in online education.

“Harvard has enormous symbolic value as well as enormous power in the world of knowledge and the world of higher education,” said Reville. “I think it does matter who succeeds her.”

Paul Reville is a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, where he also leads the Education ReDesign Lab. He’s the former Secretary of Education of Massachusetts. To hear his interview in its entirety, click on the audio player above