Faust, Drew Gilpin

Faust, Drew Gilpin

Faust, Drew Gilpin (Catharine Drew Gilpin Faust), 1947-, American historian and educator, b. New York City, grad. Bryn Mawr (B.A. 1968), Univ. of Pennsylvania (M.A. 1971, Ph.D. 1975). A professor of history at the Univ. of Pennsylvania from 1976 to 2000, she has written several works on the antebellum and Civil War South, including Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War (1997), which won the Francis Parkman Prize, and This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (2008). In 2001 she became the first dean of Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and oversaw the transformation of the former Radcliffe College into a multidisciplinary center for scholarly and creative work. Also a professor of history at Harvard from 2001, Faust was named president of the university in 2007, becoming the first woman to hold the post.

Drew Gilpin Faust (born September 18 1947) is an American historian, college administrator and the first female president of Harvard University. Faust, the former Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, is also Harvard's first president since 1672 without an undergraduate or graduate degree from Harvard.

Early life and career

Faust was born in New York City and raised in Clarke County, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley. She is the daughter of Catharine Mellick and McGhee Tyson Gilpin. Faust comes from a well-connected family of business and political leaders. Her great-grandfather, Lawrence Tyson, was a U. S. Senator from Tennessee during the 1920s.

Graduating from Concord Academy, Concord, Massachusetts in 1964, Faust earned her B.A. from Bryn Mawr College, A.M. and Ph.D. in American Civilization at the University of Pennsylvania in 1975. In the same year, she joined the Penn faculty as assistant professor of American civilization. Based on her research and teaching, she rose to Walter Annenberg Professor of History. A specialist in the history of the South in the antebellum period and Civil War, Faust developed new perspectives in intellectual history of the antebellum South and in the changing roles of women during the Civil War. She is the author of five books, most notably Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War, for which she won the Society of American Historians Francis Parkman Prize in 1997.

In 2001, Faust was appointed the first dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the successor to Radcliffe College.

Faust is a trustee of Bryn Mawr College, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the National Humanities Center. She serves on the educational advisory board of the Guggenheim Foundation. She is divorced from her first husband, Stephen Faust and is married to Charles E. Rosenberg, a historian of medicine also at Harvard.

Appointment as President of Harvard University

On June 30, 2006, then-President of Harvard Lawrence H. Summers resigned after a whirlwind of controversies (stemming partially from comments he made on a possible correlation between gender and success in certain academic fields). Derek Bok, who had served as President of Harvard from 1971–1991, returned to serve as an interim president until a permanent replacement could be found.

On 8 February, 2007, The Harvard Crimson announced that Faust had been selected as the next president. Following formal approval by the university's governing boards, her appointment was made official three days later.

During a campus news conference on campus Faust stated, "I hope that my own appointment can be one symbol of an opening of opportunities that would have been inconceivable even a generation ago". But she also added, "I'm not the woman president of Harvard, I'm the president of Harvard."

On October 12, 2007, Faust took her installation address as the president of Harvard at Cambridge, Mass. In the inauguration, she said "a university is not about results in the next quarter; it is not even about who a student has become by graduation. It is about learning that molds a lifetime, learning that transmits the heritage of millennia; learning that shapes the future."

Personal life

Faust was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1988. She has declined to speak with the media about her diagnosis or treatment.


  • Faust was named a member of the Time 100 for 2007.
  • Faust was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Human Letters from Bowdoin College in May 2007.
  • Faust was awarded an honorary Doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in May 2008.
  • Faust was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities from Yale University in May 2008.

Selected works

  • This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (Knopf, 2008) ISBN 978-0375404047
  • Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 1996) ISBN 978-0807855737
  • Southern Stories: Slaveholders in Peace and War (University of Missouri Press, 1992) ISBN 978-0826209757
  • The Creation of Confederate Nationalism: Ideology and Identity in the Civil War South (Louisiana State University Press, 1982) ISBN 978-0807116067
  • James Henry Hammond and the Old South: A Design for Mastery (Louisiana State University Press, 1982) ISBN 978-0807112489
  • A Sacred Circle: The Dilemma of the Intellectual in the Old South, 1840-1860 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1977) ISBN 978-0812212297


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