Venture Capitalist To Join Harvard Corporation

UPDATED: February 4, 2013, at 5:37 p.m.

Venture capitalist James W. Breyer was elected to the Harvard Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, Harvard announced Monday. He will become the organization’s thirteenth member on July 1.

The Corporation, which is the oldest corporate body in the western hemisphere, elected Breyer to the position on Sunday with approval from the Board of Overseers—Harvard’s other governing board.

The addition of Breyer, a managing partner at Accel Partners who graduated from Harvard Business School in 1987, will mark the completion of the Harvard Corporation’s expansion from 7 to 13 members—a piece of the governance reforms that were adopted in 2010 in an effort to increase the transparency and accountability of the group, while also making it more similar in structure to the governance bodies of other universities. In addition to expanding the size of the Corporation for the first time in its more than 300-year history, the reforms imposed six-year term limits on members and created several new subcommittees.

“I’m honored by this opportunity to serve a university that blends tradition in such meaningful, powerful ways,” Breyer said in a press release. “I’m excited at the prospect of working with [University President Drew G. Faust] and my future Corporation colleagues to help cultivate the spirit of curiosity and aspiration that, for me, defines Harvard.”

Breyer was formerly the chairman of the National Venture Capital Association and is currently a director at Dell, Inc. He has served on the boards of News Corporation, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Marvel Entertainment, and several other companies.

Breyer is a trustee of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and owns a minority share of the Boston Celtics. Forbes magazine estimates his net worth at $1.1 billion as of March 2012.

Breyer is also active at Harvard, serving as a member of Harvard’s Global Advisory Council and as chair of the Business School’s California Research Center. According to the press release, he “informally advised” the University on edX, a virtual learning initiative launched by Harvard and MIT last year.

Faust and the Corporation’s senior fellow Robert D. Reischauer ’63 praised Breyer for his innovative and entrepreneurial skills in the press release.

“Jim Breyer is one of his generation’s most creative and admired venture capitalists,” they said. “Beyond his professional pursuits, he has a deep commitment to the liberal arts, an imaginative perspective on the potential of technology to enhance education, and strong interests in modern and contemporary art, music, film, and photography. We very much look forward to welcoming him to the Corporation.”

—Staff writer Samuel Y. Weinstock can be reached at sweinstock@college.harvard.edu. Follow him on Twitter @syweinstock.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: Feb. 4, 2013

An ealier version of this article incorrectly stated the size of the Harvard Corporation prior to its expansion in the 2010 governance reforms. In fact, the Corporation had previously consisted of seven members, not nine.

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