Lawrence S. Bacow
Honorary degree: Doctor of Humane Letters
As president of Tufts University and as a thought leader on education policy, Lawrence S. Bacow has been a champion for universities to engage with their communities and expand educational opportunity.
During his tenure as president of Tufts from September 2001 through July 2011, Mr. Bacow was a forceful national voice calling for broader access to postsecondary education and increased focus on need-based financial aid.
He treated his concerns about access and the student experience as more than public policy goals: They shaped his personal approach to the presidency. For example, he took the unusual step of serving each year as a faculty adviser to several first- and second-year undergraduates.
Mr. Bacow applied his candid, engaged, energetic style of communication to help achieve ambitious university goals: advancing Tufts’ leadership in undergraduate education, deepening graduate studies and research in critical fields, and overseeing the historic Beyond Boundaries fundraising campaign.
He also made public service a priority of the university, broadened international engagement, and fostered active citizenship among members of the Tufts community.
Prior to his leadership of Tufts, Mr. Bacow spent 24 years on the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he held the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professorship of Environmental Studies. He served as the elected chair of the MIT faculty and subsequently as chancellor, one of the top two academic posts at the university.
Since stepping down from the Tufts presidency, Mr. Bacow has continued to be an influential advocate for widening opportunities in higher education—first as president-in-residence in the higher education program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and since last summer, as the inaugural leader-in-residence at the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School.
He has developed special expertise in technology as a pathway to making college more available and affordable. As a senior adviser to Ithaka S+R, a research and consulting firm, Mr. Bacow co-authored a major 2012 study of the barriers to the adoption of online learning systems in U.S. higher education.
He is also active in organizations and initiatives that focus on issues of educational access: the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Lincoln Project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which is investigating the future of the public research university.
Mr. Bacow received his bachelor’s degree in economics from MIT, his juris doctor from Harvard Law School, and a Master in Public Policy and doctorate from the Kennedy School. He is a member of the Harvard Corporation and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has held visiting professorships and research appointments at five universities abroad.