Harry Lewis graduated from Harvard in 1968, summa cum laude in Applied Mathematics. His undergraduate thesis was on handwriting recognition, handwritten mathematical notation, and their use in experimental mathematics. Lewis served for two years as a commissioned officer in the US Public Health Service at the National Institutes of Health, and for a year was educated in Europe as Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellow of Harvard University.
In 1974, Lewis was awarded the PhD in Applied Mathematics at Harvard and joined the Harvard faculty. He became Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science in 1981. From 2003 to 2008, he was honored with the title of Harvard College Professor in recognition of his teaching excellence.
Lewis is the author of several books on higher education, including Excellence Without a Soul: Does Liberal Education Have a Future?, and What is College For?, coedited with Ellen Condliffe Lagemann. His book on the origins and public consequences of the digital information flood, coauthored with Hal Abelson and Ken Ledeen, is entitled Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion. A discrete mathematics textbook by Lewis and Google engineer Rachel Zax '12 will be published by Princeton University Press.
From 1995 to 2003, Lewis served as Dean of Harvard College. In this capacity, he oversaw the undergraduate experience, including residential life, career services, public service, academic and personal advising, athletic policy, and intercultural and race relations. Lewis served as interim dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences from January through June, 2015. His students include Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and ten Harvard professors.