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San Diego’s public school superintendent and a federal appellate judge are among the five new members of the Board of Overseers—Harvard’s second-highest governing board—the University announced last month.
Superintendent Alan D. Bersin ’68, Judge Merrick B. Garland ’74, Professor Helen M. Blau, business executive Ann M. Fudge and venture capitalist Thomas F. Stephenson ’64 won alum elections and will each serve six-year terms on the 30-member board.
They beat out Emily Mann ’74, an artistic theater director, and Phyllis Yale ’78, who leads the consulting firm Bain & Co., in the elections, which ran from April 15 to June 4. The results—based on 31,176 ballots, a participation rate of 14.4 percent—were announced by the Harvard Alumni Association at Commencement on June 10.
An eighth candidate, Scott A. Abell ’72, withdrew from the election just before ballots were mailed because he was named Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences for Development.
Blau is Baxter professor of pharmacology and director of the Baxter Laboratory of Genetic Pharmacology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. After taking her bachelor’s degree from the University of York, in England, she received an A.M. in 1970 and a Ph.D. in 1975 from Harvard in molecular biology.
Fudge is chair and CEO of Young and Rubicam Inc., a major marketing and communications firm. She attended Simmons College and then graduated from Harvard Business School in 1977.
Garland has served as a judge on the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1997. He previously was principal associate deputy attorney general of the United States.
Garland graduated from Harvard Law School in 1977 after attending the College. He served as an overseer over the past year to fulfill an unexpired term.
Stephenson is a partner in the Silicon Valley venture capital company Sequoia Capital. After Harvard College, he graduated from the Harvard Business School in 1966 and Boston College Law School in 1969.
Bersin, superintendent of San Diego’s public schools, formerly served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California and previously practiced corporate law. He graduated from Yale Law School after attending Harvard College.
Bersin said he welcomes the opportunity as an overseer to help lead an institution that plays an important public role.
“On many of the central issues in society Harvard has a major role to play,” he said.
Bersin, who has served on the visiting committee that has reviewed the Graduate School of Education, said he anticipates drawing on his educational expertise to help guide University policy on primary and secondary education.
“I was attracted to the prospect of being able to advise Harvard’s leadership concerning what strikes me as an institution critical to the health of society,” he said. “I think the Graduate School of Education can do much to lead the sector in badly-needed change.”
Bersin said he comes in with no specific goals other than to focus on the University’s role in education.
“I think the overseer role is not one where you come in with a pronounced agenda but rather one where you listen and give advice,” he said.
He added that he looks forward to working with Harvard students, much as he has with San Diego students.
“The only fun I have in this job is in being with students,” he said.
The Board of Overseers reports to the Harvard Corporation, the University’s top governing body.
The overseers are responsible for ratifying many of the Corporation’s major decisions, including the selection of new University presidents.
—Staff writer Stephen M. Marks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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