Black women lead Harvard and will soon lead Boston University as well

Claudine Gay was recently sworn in as the first Black woman president of Harvard University, and not too far away, Melissa L. Gilliam was named the 11th president of Boston University.

Gay, 53, is a political scientist and professor serving as the 30th president of Harvard University. She assumed office on September 29.

Since 2018, Gay has served as the Edgerley Family Dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), the University’s largest and most academically diverse faculty, spanning the biological and physical sciences and engineering, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts. 

Boston University took the historic step of naming Dr. Melissa L. Gilliam as its next president on Wednesday. She is the first woman and the first Black woman to lead the university since it was founded. She will become president in July 2024.

Gilliam comes to Boston from The Ohio State University and has a mile-long list of research and academic leadership accomplishments. 

Gilliam, 58, is a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and pediatrics. She received her medical degree from Harvard. 

Dr. Gilliam’s mother is journalist Dorothy Butler Gilliam, and her father is artist Sam Gilliam. Her mother was the first African-American reporter for The Washington Post.