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Chief Executive Leadership Institute Honors Lawrence Bacow of Harvard University with Legend in Leadership Award

Lawrence S. Bacow
Lawrence S. Bacow

Harvard University’s 29th president, Lawrence Bacow, will accept the Legend in Leadership Award of the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute on January 29 at a ceremony at the Yale Higher Education Leadership Summit in New Haven, Connecticut.

The award will be presented to President Bacow by Peter Salovey, 23rd president, Yale University; Paula A. Johnson, 14th president, Wellesley College; Andrew Hamilton, 16th president, New York University; and Phil Hanlon, 18th president, Dartmouth College. Summit organizer Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean for leadership studies at the Yale School of Management, commented:

“Larry Bacow has an unsurpassed record of educational leadership across institutions and throughout the nation. After earning his BS in economics as a Phi Beta Kappa at MIT, he earned his JD, MPP, and PhD from Harvard, then returned to MIT for 24 years, ultimately becoming MIT’s chancellor. Through this period of administrative leadership, he continued an active, prolific scholarly career on interdisciplinary approaches to sustainability and environmental problem solving. 

“Bacow then served as a highly successful president of Tufts for a decade as a champion of research, teaching, and public service across the university’s eight schools. In this period, he founded a global association of colleges and universities committed to fortifying civil roles and social responsibility in higher education, along with remarkable success in fundraising and school finances. Two years ago, after serving on the board of the Harvard Corporation, he became the 29th president of Harvard University. In all these roles, Bacow has shown brilliant vision regarding the wider societal role of universities as forces for change while demonstrating effective conflict management through his leadership mode. He has also written extensively on the current challenges in higher education examining the context, culture, and governance of schools of varied sizes, histories, and missions. He is renowned for his candor, his sense of fairness, and his wit.

One Tufts trustee commented ‘Larry is outrageously brilliant, visionary, principled, decisive, full of energy and insight, and great at building extraordinary leadership teams. What I love about him the most, though, is the sheer warmth of his personality. I don’t think any of us ever could say no to him.’”

The Legend in Leadership Award was created 25 years ago to honor current and former CEOs and university presidents who serve as living legends to inspire leaders across industries, sectors, and nations. Past recipients include: Donna E. Shalala, former President, University of Miami, and 18th secretary of health and human services; Johnnetta B. Cole, president emerita of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, and 7th president of Spelman College; Ruth Simmons, president of Prairie View A&M University, and 18th president of Brown University; Mary T. Barra, chairman and chief executive of General Motors Company; Brian Moynihan, chairman and CEO, Bank of America; David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and co-executive chairman, The Carlyle Group; Leonard S. Schleifer, president and CEO, and George D. Yancopoulos, president and chief scientific officer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals; Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast; Marillyn Hewson CEO of Lockheed Martin; Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase; and Ken Frazier, CEO of Merck. A full list of recipients can be found online.

The summit theme is “Learning across Lifestages: Impact across Generations & Communities.” A group of revered presidents and board chairs from globally renowned colleges and universities will engage in lively, candid discussions at this invitation-only leaders’ conference hosted by the Yale School of Management.

 Summit participants include: Michael B. Alexander, 9th president, Lasell University; Roslyn Clark Artis, 14th president, Benedict College; Joanne Berger-Sweeney, 22nd president, Trinity College; Katherine Bergeron, 11th president, Connecticut College; Joe Bertolino, 12th president, Southern Connecticut State University; Brian W. Casey, 17th president, Colgate University; Christina Cutlip, senior managing director, head of client engagement and national advocacy, TIAA; Jim Dean, Jr., 20th president, University of New Hampshire; Andrew Hamilton, 16th president, New York University; Phil Hanlon, 18th president, Dartmouth College; David R. Harris, 19th president, Union College; Brent L. Henry, vice chair, board of trustees, Princeton University; Paula A. Johnson, 14th president, Wellesley College; The Honorable Ned Lamont, governor, State of Connecticut; Richard C. Levin, 22nd president, Yale University; Liz McMillen, executive editor, The Chronicle of Higher Education; Joseph McShane, S.J., 32nd president, Fordham University; Duane Nellis, 21st president, Ohio University; Mark R. Nemec, 9th president, Fairfield University; Judy D. Olian, 9th president, Quinnipiac University; Christine Riordan, 10th president, Adelphi University; Havidán Rodríguez, 20th president, University at Albany; Michael S. Roth, 16th president, Wesleyan University; Peter Salovey, 23rd president, Yale University; Lawrence Schovanec, 17th president, Texas Tech University; Stephen Spinelli, Jr., 14th president, Babson College; Lara Tiedens, 9th president, Scripps College; and Suzanne Walsh, 19th president, Bennett College.

Conference partners are TIAA and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute was founded in 1989 to provide original research on top leadership and lively, current educational forums through peer-driven learning for accomplished leaders across a range of sectors. For more information, visit