From the Desk of Philip Lovejoy

Turning to some ways I’ve been finding peace and inspiration recently, here are a few stories and videos you may enjoy:

  • Earlier this week, inaugural U.S. Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman AB ’20 shared a poem of hope and inspiration from the halls of an empty Los Angeles Public Library. Her words are powerful—if you have a few minutes today, I’d encourage you to watch the video. Here’s a brief excerpt: “The question isn’t if we will weather this unknown, but how we will weather this unknown together. So on this meaningful morn, we mourn and we mend, like light, we can’t be broken even when we bend.”
  • I also thought this Pause for Art video featuring Harvard Office for the Arts’ guest artist Catherine Russell singing “We’ll Understand It Better By and By” to be particularly beautiful. President Emerita Drew Gilpin Faust also recently gave a moving reading of an excerpt from a poem by Seamus Heaney.
  • I really enjoyed this story that captured moments of joy and laughter from socially distancing faculty and staff. Nina Gheihman PhD ’20 “gathered” more than 70 loved ones to witness her thesis defense earlier in April. The piece also features Kevin Ballen AB ’22 who has been leading virtual laughter yoga class!
  • Professor Michael Sandel has started a series on ethics and the pandemic response—it’s a wonderful opportunity to engage with and reflect upon some key questions raised by our current circumstances. The livestream is open to all alumni—you can watch a recent episode here.
  • If you went to the College, you likely remember the Lowell House bells. Anytime you need a break in your day, you can listen to them tolling here.
  • The Sacred Design Lab at Harvard Divinity School has been hosting contemplative gatherings every weekday at noon ET. Information about participating can be found here.
  • It seemed like many of you enjoyed looking at the Lowell Tea Cookbook last week! This week, I’m sharing an amazing popover recipe courtesy of the Harvard Club of New York (it’s one of my favorite things to eat when I visit the Club)!


I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself getting into new routines and trying to find moments each day for quiet and peace. It’s not always easy, but I’m realizing how important it is. To that end, I wanted to check back in with you and share some stories and videos that have brought me respite, peace, or even laughter during this challenging time.To start, I thought you would be interested to know that Harvard just announced a plan for the endowment to go greenhouse gas–neutral by 2050—this was coupled with the news that the University has created a Presidential Committee on Sustainability to advise President Bacow and University leadership on sustainability goals, strategy, and partnerships.

I wanted to be sure that you, as a volunteer leader, are aware of the statement Harvard made just a few days ago explaining its decision to decline funds allocated to the University from the federal CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. That statement noted that Harvard did not apply for, seek, or access those funds, while it also clarified earlier misperceptions and misinformation (including the implication that these funds were allocated for the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, for small businesses.) The PPP is an entirely separate program and administered by the Small Business Administration through local banks—not the Department of Education. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.And, for the many of you who are working remotely, like all of us on the HAA staff, here’s a snapshot of where you’ll find me most days, with Harvard hat in tow.

We are also seeking photos of you and your fellow alumni in your new workspaces! If you post to any social channel using the hashtag #HarvardAtHome or tag us, we’ll find and feature your photos in our Instagram story. Here are a few of our favorites.

As always, please reach out to me or to any member of the HAA staff if we can be helpful—even if you just need someone to talk to. We’re here for you, just like you’re there for Harvard every day.

Today wraps up National Volunteer Week in the U.S. I thought I would take this moment to let you know that Harvard would not be the institution it is today without your time, dedication, and effort. As I have said before, you and your fellow volunteer leaders are the true heart of the University. Thank you for all you do for Harvard, for one another, and for the world.

Stay well,


Philip W. Lovejoy
Associate Vice President and Executive Director
Harvard Alumni Association