Alumni Association Elects Six Overseers

At its annual meeting on Commencement Day, the Harvard Alumni Association announced the election of six new members of the Board of Overseers.

Aida Alvarez '71, Frank W. Hobbs IV '69, M. Lee Pelton, Patti B. Saris '73, Steven A. Schroeder '60 and Barbara S. Robinson were chosen by alumni to fill positions on the University's oldest governing body.

All of the new overseers will serve full five-year terms on the 30-member board, except for Robinson, who will fill a vacant position for three years.

The new crop of overseers has a distinctly local flavor. Hobbs hails from Concord, Mass., while Saris grew up in West Roxbury and attended Boston public schools.

Hobbs, an Olympic athlete and recently-retired chair of the investment firm Warburg Dillon Read, insisted that Harvard must place more emphasis on K-12 education.

"I'd like to see Harvard as an intellectual leader on how we do [K-12] education better," he said.

Saris is a federal judge who has had extensive experience in both government and law. She was interested in politics from the very beginning--during her undergraduate years, she was a member of the Institute of Politics' Student Advisory Board. She was also associate managing editor of The Crimson.

Saris said she looks forward to giving something back to the University she said helped her so much.

"It opened up so many horizons to me and gave me the idea that I could be a leader and move on," Saris said.

With the completion of the capital campaign, the election of Schroeder may signal a change in the priorities of the governing boards.

Schroeder, currently serving as president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a charitable group, believes that it may be time for Harvard to use some of its endowment to improve opportunities for undergraduates.

"One of the fundamental issues for Harvard is to what extent it should continue to grow its endowment and to what extent it should begin to use it," he said.

Pelton, the president of Willamette University, has made diversity one of his top priorities. He has also expressed deep interest in the rapid advance of technology and new ethical dilemmas created by science.

"I think biology is the next great revolution of the twenty-first century," he said.

Alvarez will bring a government administrator's perspective to the Overseers. She is head of the federal Small Business Administration, and has also had experience in journalism and corporate finance. Like Saris, she hopes to be able to give back to the University.

"Harvard opened many doors for me," she said. "I would like to give something back."

Robinson's specialty is the arts--she is the head of several nationwide arts groups including the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. She also led the opposition to the drive by Senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts.

Though largely powerless, the overseers in theory supervise the decisions made by the Harvard Corporation, the University's main governing body. And when the Corporation chooses President Neil L. Rudenstine's in the coming year, the overseers must give their consent.