PSPPI - Faust

November 21, 2023

SIU’s Simon Institute hosts former Harvard president to discuss her memoir

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Former Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust, a leading scholar on the American Civil War, will join Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute for a virtual discussion Dec. 5.

Faust will join John Shaw, institute director, to discuss her memoir, “Necessary Trouble: Growing up at Midcentury.”

The free, public discussion via Zoom is at 2 p.m.; registration is required. The conversation is part of the institute’s “Understanding Our New World” discussion series. Visit to register.

In her memoir, released in August 2023, Faust, who grew up in a privileged, conservative and segregated Virginia in the 1950s, discusses her coming of age during that time and her increasing political activism, which included participating in historic marches to support civil rights and oppose the Vietnam War.

Faust served as Harvard University president from 2007 to 2018 and is the Arthur Kingsley Porter University Research Professor in Harvard’s Department of History. She was the first woman to serve as that university’s president.

“Drew Gilpin Faust has been among the leading educators and scholars in the United States for several decades. Her fascinating personal story unfolded against the backdrop of seismic political, cultural and social events in the United States,” Shaw said. “We are eager to learn more about her perspectives on the many changes that have transformed American life. We are also eager to hear how she combined high-level administrative work with world-class scholarship.”

Faust was dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study from 2001 to 2007, after 25 years on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, including the Annenberg professor of history there. She is the author of six books and is a contributing writer for The Atlantic. Her 2008 book, “This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War,” describes the impact of the Civil War’s staggering death toll on the lives of 19th-century Americans. It won numerous awards and was a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist.

She received her bachelor’s degree in history from Bryn Mawr, and her master’s and doctoral degrees in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.

Attendees are encouraged to submit questions for Faust on the registration form or email questions to

More information, a list of the institute’s upcoming events and past speakers and events are available.