Corporation and Three Overseers Will Lead Presidential Search

Loeb House
The Corporation conducts its business in Loeb House.
All twelve members of the Harvard Corporation will sit on the committee to replace University President Drew G. Faust in an expansion of the nine-member committee that led Harvard’s last presidential search.

Three members of Harvard’s second-highest governing body, the Board of Overseers, will also be named to the committee, according to William F. Lee ’72, the Corporation’s senior fellow. Those members have yet to be chosen.

In the past, only nine people sat on the search committee—six members of the Corporation and three Overseers—but this search will be the first since the Corporation expanded its membership from seven to 13 in 2010. Faust, who will step down in June 2018, also serves on the Corporation, though she will not sit on the committee selecting her successor.

Lee also said that the search committee will launch faculty and student advisory committees. The University convened formal faculty and student advisory panels for the first time during the 2006 presidential search.

“We thought they were enormously helpful in providing advice, collecting information, and helping us reach out to a broad portion of the community,” Lee, who helped lead the last search as an Overseer, said in an interview with The Crimson. “It’s a model that we think worked very well the last time. We intend to do it again this time.”

Harvard will organize the advisory committees over the summer, Lee said, and will begin working with them when the fall semester commences.

The expanded presidential search committee has a number of tasks ahead of it. According to Lee, the committee will solicit suggestions from Harvard affiliates, consult with the two advisory panels, and winnow down the potential list of candidates—then likely hundreds strong—to a shortlist the selection committee will ultimately choose from.

The process will likely unfold over the better part of the next year: Harvard’s previous presidential search, resulting in Faust’s selection, took nearly ten months to compete.

While Lee said the search committee will work “expeditiously,” he emphasized selecting Faust’s successor is a “singularly important” task, and that the search committee will not rush the process.

Lee did not rule out the possibility that the search committee will enlist the aid of an independent executive search firm, noting that the decision would ultimately be made once the search committee was finalized. Historically, Harvard has kept the process in-house.

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