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Tracy K. Smith ’94 to Speak at Harvard Alumni Day

Pulitzer Prize winning poet Tracy K. Smith '94 was awarded the 2019 Harvard Arts Medal in 2019.
Pulitzer Prize winning poet Tracy K. Smith '94 was awarded the 2019 Harvard Arts Medal in 2019. By Mariah Ellen D. Dimalaluan
By Cara J. Chang, Crimson Staff Writer

Pulitzer Prize winning poet Tracy K. Smith ’94 will serve as the Harvard Class of 2022's Alumni Day speaker, the University announced Wednesday.

Smith, a professor of English and African and African American Studies, served two terms as the 22nd United States Poet Laureate in 2017 and 2018. Smith joined the Harvard Board of Overseers — the University’s second-highest governing body — in 2020, but stepped down upon receiving her teaching post last year.

Formerly known as the Harvard Alumni Association’s annual meeting, Alumni Day will take place June 3, following the Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2022 and the joint ceremony for the Classes of 2020 and 2021. The event — back in-person for the first time since 2019 — will also include the traditional alumni parade, musical performances, and a speech by University President Lawrence S. Bacow.

Smith said she was “deeply honored” to be selected, according to the Harvard Gazette, a publication overseen by the University's public affairs department.

“It’s important to come together after this time of relative isolation and speak about this place that we share,” she said.

Bacow told the Gazette that Harvard affiliates are “fortunate” Smith will share her wisdom with alumni.

“Tracy is an inspired choice to serve as the first official speaker for Harvard Alumni Day,” Bacow said. “Her poetry has the power to create common ground and to mend what is broken — a gift to all of us, especially in dark times.”

Philip W. Lovejoy, the outgoing HAA executive director, told the Gazette that Smith provides “a shining example” of a drive among Harvard alumni to make the world a better place.

“This day will be the highlight of the alumni calendar, with the traditions and the pomp and circumstance we all love — and I am thrilled that we will be hearing from Tracy K. Smith, one of our most compelling alumni voices,” he said.

—Staff writer Cara J. Chang can be reached at cara.chang@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @CaraChang20.

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