Corporation Welcomes Outside Members to New Bodies

The Harvard Corporation has created four new bodies, some of which will incorporate people who are not formally members of the Corporation, as part of the ongoing restructuring of the University’s highest governing body.

The Corporation added three new subcommittees—finance, governance, and alumni affairs and development—along with a joint committee on facilities and capital planning.

The finance committee and the committee on alumni affairs and development include some people who are not members of the Corporation, primarily alumni with experience in finance.

The committee on facilities and capital planning, a joint committee with the Board of Overseers, contains Corporation members, overseers, and three other members.

The governance committee is comprised exclusively of Corporation members.

Officials said last spring that the addition of nonmember contributors was intended to bring outside perspectives and additional expertise to the historically insular body. Though these individuals participate in the discussion about policy, the fiduciary power lies in the hands of the Corporation, according to University President Drew G. Faust and Corporation Senior Fellow Robert D. Reischauer ’63.

“They have been seamlessly integrated into this process. If you were a fly on the wall and came into a committee meeting, you would have no idea who is a member of the Corporation and who were one of the non-Corporation members,” Reischauer said. “It’s allowed us to dig more deeply and over a longer period of time into these issues...and come up with what I would say are the best possible decisions.”

The formation of the new groups is part of a set of ongoing reforms announced in 2010, which reshape the oldest corporate body in the Western hemisphere.

Other changes include nearly doubling the body’s membership from 7 to 13 and introducing six-year term limits for members.

The Corporation had previously been criticized for a lack of transparency. In part, these reforms were intended to tackle that problem.

“Part of the nature of the reforms was to embed constant scrutiny into the regular workings of the Corporation,” Faust said. “The governance committee is one that is always going to be asking, ‘Are we doing this in the best possible way?’”

The delegation of certain tasks to the committees has allowed the Corporation itself to discuss broader issues that it could not have dealt with otherwise, Reischauer said. These issues include Harvard’s international role, federal relations strategies, and the undergraduate experience.

The Committee, which currently has nine members plus Faust, will add three more members over the course of the next two years while also expanding the size of the committees, Reischauer said.

—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at hrouse@college.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at jworland@college.harvard.edu.

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