Lawrence Bacow

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Lawrence "Larry" Seldon Bacow (/ˈbæˌk/; born August 24, 1951) is an American lawyer, economist, author and university administrator, and the current 29th President of Harvard University. He assumed office on July 1, 2018, succeeding Drew Gilpin Faust. Prior to assuming the presidency, Bacow was the Hauser leader-in-residence at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was previously at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has been a member of the President and Fellows of Harvard College, one of the university's governing boards, since 2011.

Lawrence Bacow
29th President of Harvard University
Assumed office
July 1, 2018
Preceded byDrew Gilpin Faust
12th President of Tufts University
In office
September 1, 2001 – July 29, 2011
Preceded byJohn A. DiBiaggio
Succeeded byAnthony Monaco
3rd Chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In office
August 1, 1998 – June 30, 2001
PresidentCharles M. Vest
Preceded byPaul E. Gray
Succeeded byPhillip Clay
Personal details
Lawrence Seldon Bacow

(1951-08-24) August 24, 1951 (age 68)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Spouse(s)Adele Fleet Bacow
ResidenceBrookline, Massachusetts, U.S.
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology (SB)
Harvard University (JD, MPP, PhD)
OccupationLawyer, economist, and college administrator
Academic work
DisciplinePublic policy

Bacow began his academic career in 1977 as a professor of environmental studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.[1] At MIT, Bacow eventually became chair of his department and Chancellor of the university. From September 2001 to July 2011, Bacow served as the 12th President of Tufts University.

Early life and educationEdit

Bacow was born on August 24, 1951, in Detroit, Michigan. His mother emigrated from Europe at age 19 after World War II and was the only member of her family to survive Auschwitz. His father was brought to the United States as a child to escape pogroms.[2] Bacow grew up in Pontiac, Michigan, and was a part of the Boy Scouts of America; he would eventually rise to be an Eagle Scout. The organization would give him the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award later in life.[3][4]

Bacow attended Andover High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.[5] He then received his S.B. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a member of the Jewish fraternity Zeta Beta Tau. He received his J.D. from Harvard Law School, his M.P.P. from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and his Ph.D. in public policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.[6][7]

Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyEdit

Bacow began his academic career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He served as professor at the institution for 24 years, ultimately being appointed department chair and the chancellor. Bacow majored in economics as an undergraduate at MIT. Upon completion of graduate school in 1977, he returned to MIT to teach in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, becoming the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies. He was the co-founder and first Director of MIT's Center for Real Estate. As Chancellor of MIT (1998-2001), he had oversight of undergraduate and graduate education, student life, admissions, financial aid, athletics, campus planning, and MIT's large scale institutional partnerships both industrial and international.[8] He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003.[9]

Tufts UniversityEdit

On September 1, 2001, he was elected as the 12th President of Tufts University.[10]

While President of Tufts, Bacow opposed the unionization efforts of graduate students as well as those of the university's technical and clerical employees.[11][12] On February 8, 2010, in an email to the student body he announced that he would be stepping down as President of Tufts in June 2011. On March 1, 2010, President Barack Obama announced that Bacow was appointed to the board of advisors for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.[13]

Harvard UniversityEdit

On May 25, 2011, Bacow was named as a member of the President and Fellows of Harvard College, one of the boards tasked with guiding the endeavors and initiatives of Harvard University.[14] Thus, for approximately one month, until his resignation from Tufts, he had governance responsibilities at both Tufts University and Harvard University.

After Bacow was mentioned in The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2006 as a possible candidate to succeed Lawrence Summers as president of Harvard University, Bacow categorically denied interest in the position, saying, "I took this job [Tufts] expecting it to be my last. I still do."[15]

On February 11, 2018, it was announced that Bacow was set to become the 29th president of Harvard University on July 1, 2018, succeeding Drew Gilpin Faust.[16][15][16] Chosen out of 700 candidates, his election was considered a "safe" succession to Faust.[10] Like many of his predecessors, Bacow faced controversy as president of Harvard for failing to conduct a truly independent inquiry into the behavior of prominent scholar Jorge I. Domínguez, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment while serving as a faculty member.[17]

Financial compensationEdit

Upon leaving his position at Tufts in 2011, financial disclosures show that Bacow received $2,182,717 in compensation that year.[18][19] He collected $745,755 in 2009 (with a base pay of $634,781)[18] and $691,483 in 2008 (with a base pay of $631,904).[18]

The Harvard Corporation has yet to release financial statements regarding Bacow's compensation at the university, but many have speculated via former president Drew Faust's disclosures. Her annual payment[20] from 2008-2016 ranged from $792,611[18] to $1,099,660.[18][21]

Personal lifeEdit

Bacow is an avid runner, with five marathons under his belt.[22][23] He and his wife, Adele Fleet Bacow, president of Community Partners Consultants, an urban planning firm, have two sons, Jay (b. 1980)[24] and Ken.[25] On March 24, 2020, Bacow and his wife tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.[26]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Svrluga, Susan (February 11, 2018). "Harvard names former Tufts leader Lawrence Bacow as president". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  2. ^ Hartocollis, Anemona (February 11, 2018). "Harvard Chooses Lawrence Bacow as Its Next President". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  3. ^ Townley, Alvin (December 26, 2006). Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 190. ISBN 0-312-36653-1. Retrieved December 29, 2006.
  4. ^ "Distinguished Eagle Scouts" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 20, 2013. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Lawrence Bacow Named New Harvard University President". February 11, 2018. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  7. ^ Bacow, Lawrence Seldon (1978). Regulating occupational hazards through collective bargaining (Ph.D.). Harvard University. OCLC 8979942 – via ProQuest.
  8. ^ "Lawrence S. Bacow | MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning". Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  9. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  10. ^ a b "Lawrence Bacow Named New Harvard University President". February 11, 2018. Retrieved February 11, 2018.
  11. ^ "Bacow opposed to grad student unionization - The Tufts Daily". The Tufts Daily. April 1, 2002. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  12. ^ "Administration rebuffs efforts to unionize workers - The Tufts Daily". The Tufts Daily. April 15, 2009. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  13. ^ "Tufts E-News: Obama Taps Bacow for Higher Education Initiative". Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  14. ^ "Three to Join Harvard Corporation". Harvard Gazette. May 25, 2011.
  15. ^ a b
  16. ^ a b "Harvard names Lawrence S. Bacow as 29th president". February 11, 2018. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  17. ^ "The Domínguez External Review Must Not Be A Whitewash | Opinion | The Harvard Crimson". Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  18. ^ a b c d e "Executive Compensation at Public and Private Colleges". The Chronicle of Higher Education. July 14, 2019. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  19. ^ "Lawrence Bacow, former Tufts president, will be new Harvard University president - The Boston Globe". Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  20. ^ "Faust Made $1.7 Million in 2017, Bacow's Salary As President Unknown Until 2020 | News | The Harvard Crimson". Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  21. ^ "Faust Made $1.5 Million in 2016 | News | The Harvard Crimson". Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  22. ^ After five straight years in the field, Bacow gives legs a respite from marathon - Sports Archived April 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Honest Mr Scoutmaster, it wasn't us...honest". Listserv. Retrieved January 28, 2007.
  24. ^ "Terri Landon, Jay Bacow". The New York Times. May 27, 2007.
  25. ^ "Adele Fleet Bacow: First Lady of Tufts". Tufts Magazine. Fall 2001.
  26. ^ Wagner, Meg. "Harvard's president and his wife test positive for coronavirus". CNN. Retrieved March 24, 2020.

External linksEdit

Academic offices
Title last held by
Paul E. Gray
Chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1998 – 2001
Succeeded by
Phillip Clay
Preceded by
John A. DiBiaggio
President of Tufts University
2001 – 2011
Succeeded by
Anthony Monaco
Preceded by
Drew Gilpin Faust
President of Harvard University
2018 – present