Corporation Taps Three New Members

Three new fellows will join the Harvard Corporation in July, University President Drew G. Faust and Senior Fellow Robert D. Reischauer ’63 announced Wednesday—marking the first step in implementing the comprehensive program of Corporation reform enacted in December.

Outgoing Tufts University President Lawrence S. Bacow, computer scientist Susan L. Graham ’64, and Boston businessman Joseph J. O’Donnell ’67 will join the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body. Their addition will give the Corporation more than seven members for the first time in its nearly 400-year history.

The three new members were selected after a five-month search by the Corporation and three overseers, who reviewed at least 500 nominations.

Bacow—who earned a J.D., M.P.P., and Ph.D. from Harvard—has served as Tufts’ president since 2001. Bacow has also served as the chancellor of MIT, where he oversaw many facets of the school’s education and operations.

Graham, a computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, was a member of the Harvard Board of Overseers from 2001 to 2007—serving as its president in 2006-07—where she played a major role in the creation of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

O’Donnell is the founder and CEO of the Boston Culinary Group, a billion-dollar hospitality and food service company. Influential in state and local politics, O’Donnell was appointed by President George W. Bush to the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts.

“Each of them brings expertise and experience that the Corporation will greatly value, and each has an intensity of commitment to higher education, and to helping Harvard adapt and thrive in changing times, that promises to serve us well,” Faust said in a statement.

The backgrounds of Bacow, Graham, and O’Donnell are in line with expectations that the Corporation’s increasing membership would result in greater specialization among its fellows.

Though he declined to go into specifics, Reischauer said last month that the governing board had made a list of 10 or 12 important areas of proficiency they would like to see represented on the Corporation.

Bacow’s experience as president of a research university has clear links to his new post, but his previous work with international partners may also prove valuable. Graham’s work in computer science is also an important addition to the Corporation, whose current members predominantly hail from the spheres of law or business. And O’Donnell’s background in the arts—another underrepresented field on the Corporation—as well as his business knowledge and political connections are also of value.

In addition, two of the three members chosen Wednesday are local residents, continuing a trend that began with the selection of Boston lawyer William F. Lee ’72 as a fellow in 2010. Since his appointment, Lee has made a point of being present on Harvard’s campus.

“These are three individuals with extensive governance experience who exemplify the remarkable accomplishment of our alumni across a range of professional domains,” said Reischauer, who chaired the search committee.

In the months before the announcement, some speculated that the expansion of the Corporation would also lead to more diversity in age and ethnicity among its members. However, Bacow, the youngest of the new members, is 59 years old, and all three are white.

The Corporation undertook a review of its structure and functioning in 2008. In part, the impetus for the reforms was the precipitous drop in Harvard’s endowment, which led some faculty and alumni to call for the Corporation to become more transparent and accountable.

Reischauer has said the reforms attempt to address these concerns.

—Staff writer Zoe A. Y. Weinberg can be reached at zoe.weinberg@college.harvard.edu.

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