Presidential Search Committee Convenes Behind Closed Doors

The committee tasked with selecting Harvard’s next president convened in Cambridge Sunday evening for a closed-door meeting to discuss the search.

Between regular sessions of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers—Harvard’s two highest governing bodies—the 12 members of the Corporation and the three Overseers who comprise the search committee gathered to consider who will succeed outgoing University President Drew G. Faust.

As they left another Loeb House meeting on an unseasonably warm Monday morning, several search committee members declined to comment on the subject of Sunday’s meeting. William F. Lee ’72, the Corporation’s senior fellow and the search committee chair, declined to comment. When informed that The Crimson wanted information about Sunday’s meeting, University Treasurer and Corporation member Paul J. Finnegan ’75 demurred.

“I bet you do,” he said.

Historically, presidential search committees have taken a number of steps to keep their deliberations confidential. In 2001, then-candidate Lawrence H. Summers, Faust’s predecessor, arrived at his formal interview with the search committee through a service elevator to avoid the press.

Loeb House
The Harvard Corporation typically meets at Loeb House seven or eight times each academic year.

Earlier this month, Corporation member Susan L. Graham said that the search remained in “information-gathering mode,” as it solicits and reviews ideas from Harvard affiliates on who should ascend to Faust’s position once she departs in June. Since then, the committee has unveiled the members of a student advisory committee that will weigh in on the search. The group already appointed faculty and staff advisory groups over the summer.

Economics department chair David I. Laibson ’88 said that social science department heads will meet with a member of the search committee later this week. In past searches, members of the search committee have met with department chairs over breakfast to gauge faculty opinions.

On Monday morning, Corporation members filed into Loeb House, briefcases in hand, to examine the University’s finances. According to former Corporation member Nannerl O. Keohane—whom billionaire philanthropist David Rubenstein replaced over the summer—half of the Corporation members, in addition to outside experts, serve on a finance committee, which typically meets Monday mornings on the weeks Harvard’s decision-makers come to town.

“They’re nominated and chosen by the Corporation, but they join the meetings so that we have deeper expertise,” Keohane said of the outside specialists in an interview in April 2016.

The finance committee meeting came less than a week after Harvard Management Company CEO N.P. Narvekar released what he called a “disappointing” 8.1 percent return on the University’s investments. Narvekar attended Monday’s meeting, as did Overseer and search committee member Tracy P. Palandjian ’93.

—Brandon J. Dixon contributed reporting to this article.

—Mia C. Karr contributed reporting to this article.

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