A former United States senator and a high school math teacher from Atlanta, Georgia are among nine nominees for six openings on Harvard's Board of Overseers.
As one of the University's two top governing bodies, the Board is responsible for approving major decisions by its counterpart, the Harvard Corporation. The 30 Overseers, who meet a minimum of five times each year, serve on visiting committees throughout the University, advise the president and influence Harvard's long-term policies.
Former Colorado Senator Timothy E. Wirth '61 and Atlanta teacher Rodalinda R. Ratajczak '66 were among the candidates nominated by the Harvard Alumni Association to vie for the terms of six years on the Board.
A 15-member nominating committee selected the candidates from among 250 names suggested by Harvard alumni. The Committee was appointed by the alumni association's board of directors.
All Harvard alumni have a chance to vote by mail in the spring election. Results will be announced at Commencement.
Wirth, who is President Clinton's nominee for undersecretary of state for global affairs, is an environmentalist with a masters degree in education from Harvard and a doctorate in education from Stanford.
The former Class Day speaker was an active proponent of Project 88, a program at the Kennedy School that investigated the viability of private incentives for environmental protection.
Wirth, a onetime Lowell House resident, was president of the Hasty Pudding Club, a member of the Porcellian and a volunteer for Phillips Brooks House during his years as a Harvard undergraduate. His daughter Kelsey graduated from the College last year.
Ratajczak, a former Radcliffe trustee, is a math teacher from Atlanta, Georgia.
"I don't really expect to be elected, but I love being nominated," said Ratajczak, who is active in the HAA and the Harvard Club of Georgia. "[The Overseers] are sort of the conscience of the alumni. I think their role is to communicate intensely...what the alumni feel about [important issues.]"
"It's a wonderful job because you don't have to be involved with the day to day issues and you can step back and say, wait a second, what is right in terms of what I see here," she said.
Overseers nominee Stephen B. Kay '56 agreed.
"I think for Harvard to be speaking out against a practice or making a statment is just a great pulpit," said Kay, a Brookline resident and retired Goldman Sachs executive. "I don't think [the Overseers] job is to run things, but to be available and to work on issues and to use influence on occasion, not to push the school, but to maybe to nudge them in the right direction."
Kay, a graduate of the Business School and former fellow at the Kennedy School, said medical issues and the community-wide impact of Harvard's hospital system would be important issues to him as an Overseer. Kay currently serves as first vice chair of the Beth Israel Hospital board and treasurer of the Dana Farber Cancer Center Jimmy Fund. He is a former HAA president.
"You don't get a lot from being an Overseer except for perhaps too much rich food and the chance to serve the University," Kay said. "It's fun."