He will assume the position on September 1.
Forst, a 14-year veteran of the investment bank Goldman Sachs, will oversee Harvard's offices for human resources, finances, and administration, which until now reported directly to the president. According to the announcement, he will also advise University President Drew G. Faust on developing "administrative capacity" between schools, a recent focus of the University's leaders.
Forst, who holds an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, will also draw on his financial expertise as a new board member of the Harvard Management Company, which oversees the University's endowment.
The executive vice president, which Faust announced last May, is the most significant addition to Harvard's central administration since the position of provost was reconstituted in 1991.
Faust said in the fall that she hoped to conclude the search by the end of last calendar year and expressed some frustration this spring about not having found a person for the post.
"I definitely need an executive vice president and the search is still going on," Faust said in March. "Every search has its challenges."
Forst comes to Harvard without previous experience in academic management, but boasts a strong résumé in the financial world, having served as Goldman's executive vice president, chief administrative officer, and global head of its investment management division.
The move to the educational sector will come with a steep drop in pay for Forst, who earned nearly $50 million in the fiscal year ending in 2007, according to Forbes. Harvard vice presidents generally earn under $500,000.
While executive vice president positions have drawn longtime academics at some universities, other schools, like UPenn and Columbia, have also filled the post with individuals who have familiarity with financial matters.
Throughout his time in the corporate sector, Forst has also remained involved with Harvard. He served as co-chair of the 20th and 25th reunion gift committees for his class and he has co-chaired since 2005 the University Committee on Student Excellence and Opportunity, which studies possible improvements to financial aid across the University.
As Faust described the post last year, the vice presidents for finance, human resources, and administration, will report to the executive vice president. But the sudden resignation of finance Vice President Elizabeth Mora earlier this year leaves that position open.
University spokesman John D. Longbrake said at the time that a search would likely be announced soon, but two months later, no indication about a search has been made.
The position of vice president for government, community, and public affairs will also be vacant starting next month, when current occupant, Alan J. Stone, steps down after nearly seven years in the role.
–Staff writer Clifford M. Marks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.