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The search committee rank and file

By Tova A. Serkin, Crimson Staff Writer

The Academics

Sharon E. Gagnon, president of the Board of Overseers, will have a long commute for committee meetings. A resident of Alaska, Gagnon is the former President of the Board of regents at the University of Alaska--she even has a street in Anchorage named after her.

Gagnon's familiarity with Harvard is well-established. She served as the president of the Harvard Alumni Association before becoming an Overseer in 1995. In addition, Gagnon keeps in contact with Harvard students from Alaska.

Those who have worked with Gagnon praised not only her intelligence but also her ability to work with others.

"She's just extremely diligent, measured and very sensitive to all the complexities," former president of the Board of Overseers Charlotte P. Armstrong '49 says. "She has an excellent sense of how a major university functions."

Though Gagnon lives thousands of miles from Cambridge, Armstrong says she does not believe the distance will be a problem.

"She's never missed a meeting and is always available," Armstrong says.

Overseer Thomas E. Everhart '53 is the newest academic in the group, serving as president emeritus of the California Institute of Technology.

Everhart, who is also a professor of electrical engineering and applied physics at Caltech, was elected to the Board of Overseers last June, making him a relative newcomer.

"He comes very highly recommended," Armstrong says.

Corporate Big-Wigs

D. Ronald Daniel is a veteran search committee member, serving on the Corporation as the University's treasurer. Daniel also chairs the board of the Harvard Management Company, which oversees Harvard's nearly $15 billion endowment.

As a former director at McKinsey and Co., Daniel holds one of the most prestigious business jobs in the world and, according to Slichter, is incredibly intelligent and talented.

"He has the ability to see issues and define them," Slichter says. "He's so good at seeing where you've been and where you're going."

Academia is not foreign ground for Daniel, however. He is the former president of the board of trustees at Wesleyan University, his alma mater.

James R. Houghton, a member of the Corporation since 1996, is the chair emeritus of Corning, Inc. Most recently he has spent his time as the chair of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Houghton has a storied family history--his cousin built Houghton Library, located next to Lamont, and his great-great-grandfather manufactured the first light bulb for Thomas A. Edison.

Houghton is well-known on his own merits as well. An expert fundraiser, Houghton left Corning in 1996 to turn his energy to education and the arts.

Herbert S. Winokur Jr. '64-'65 is the youngest member of the search committee--the only one under 60. He received all three of his academic degrees from Harvard and continues to have close ties with the financial and academic sides of the University.

He sits on the board of the HMC and is the former co-chair of reunion fundraising for the Class of 1965.

Winokur is the former co-chair of the New York Historical Society, an honorary director of the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center and former chair and CEO of Capricorn Holdings.

Winokur also served in the army for two years after receiving his Ph.D. in applied mathematics.


The last two members of the search committee don't specifically fit into the academic or corporate worlds.

Conrad K. Harper, a lawyer and partner at Simpson Thacher and Bartlett is one of two newest members of the Corporation.

A group that is historically white and male, the 350-year-old governing body made history this February when they appointed Harper as the first African-American member of the Corporation.

Earlier this year, Harper said that being first was merely a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

"There are many persons of color who might have had that distinction," Harper said when he was appointed.

Harper is a former legal advisor to the U.S. State Department and has served as the President of the Bar of the City of New York.

A known advocate for diversity, Harper may encourage the committee to seriously consider minority and women candidates.

Overseer Richard E. Oldenburg '54 rounds out the committee. Grounded in the humanities, Oldenburg is the honorary chair of Sotheby's North and South America and is the director emeritus of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

"He's got very well-honed executive skills," Armstrong says. "He is a thoroughly cultivated person and very sensible."

--This story first appeared in the summer editions of The Crimson.

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