Armstrong Elected President Of Overseers

Lawyer is fourth woman ever to hold post

Harvard's Board of Overseers has elected distinguished lawyer and active alumna Charlotte P. Armstrong '49 as its president for the 1998-99 year.

Armstrong is the fourth woman to hold the position in Harvard's history.

A trustee since 1993, Armstrong was nominated for the position at the Board's meeting on April 4 and elected by a unanimous vote. She will take office in June.

"I'm absolutely delighted," she said in an interview with The Crimson last night. "I'm a Harvard freak--it's so much a part of my life and I have so thoroughly enjoyed the involvement."

Armstrong will succeed current board president David L. Johnston '63, a professor of law at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Johnston was unequivocal in his support for Armstrong.


"I'm just delighted," Johnston said. "She's a marvelous person, very able, wise and loves Harvard."

"She grew up as a child in Cambridge and has been just a superb member of the Board of Overseers," he added.

Fourth Woman President

Much like a group of trustees, the 30-strong Board of Overseers has been one of the two governing boards of Harvard University since the 17th century.

Overseers serve six-year terms, and every spring, Harvard alumni elect five "freshman" overseers from candidates chosen by a nominating committee.

The other governing board, called the Corporation, is a smaller executive committee comprised of the University president and seven Fellows.

According to Johnston, as Harvard embraced the spirit of coeducation in the 1970s, the number of women elected to the traditionally male Board of Overseers dramatically increased. Today, 11 of the 30 overseers are female, and many, including Armstrong, have held leadership positions on the board's internal committees.

"I think there's been a conscious effort in the nominations for the Board of Over-seers to establish a balance," Johnston said.

"The nominating committee may do its work carefully to try and ensure a balance, but it's up to the electorate to see who will be elected or chosen as the five overseers to serve for a six-year term," he said.

Yet ever since Helen H. Gilbert '26 was elected the first female president of the Board of Overseers almost two decades ago, only two other women have held theposition.

The most recent female president was Renee M.Landers '77, who held the post during the 1996-97year.

In an interview last night, Landers expressedsupport for Armstrong's election.

"I think she's wonderful," Landers said. "She'sreally devoted to Harvard, and she's verythoughtful. She always says the right thing at theright time."

Armstrong, who was a member of the firstHarvard Law School class to admit women, said thelegacy of previous women overseers had laid astrong foundation for women on the board.

"I don't have any sense of being a pioneer, asI was at the Law School," she said. "I follow inthe steps of some very able, qualified women."

"I don't think I was chosen because I was awoman, yet I think it says something," she added."It's important symbolically, but that's reallyall. I think it's a very level playing field.

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