Overseers Election Gets Heated

With five members of the Harvard Board of Overseers set to end their terms this year, competition has heated up among the eight alumni candidates running for spots in a mail-in election slated to begin this Saturday.

The election, run by the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA), is open to all graduates of the University and will fill seats on the University’s second-highest governing board.

The candidates represent a broad swath of Harvard alumni, ranging from top CEOs to an astronomer from California. Many of those contacted by The Crimson emphasized the impact that their Harvard degrees played in their respective successes.

U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa, who graduated from Harvard Law School (HLS) in 1975 and is a former editor of the Harvard Law Record, said that “those who had become successful due to the education they received at Harvard” should give back by volunteering their time.

Board candidate Arne S. Duncan ’86, currently CEO of Chicago Public Schools, wrote in an e-mail that “Harvard helped shape me for a life of public service by teaching me that with enough determination and creativity anything is possible.”

Four of the eight candidates did not return requests for comment. The four who responded said they hoped to bring unique perspectives to their potential seat on the Board.

Hinojosa said he drew from his own upbringing when emphasizing how important it is for the University to admit students from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds.

“Having grown up the youngest of five children and seeing first-hand the sacrifice that family members and parents make in order to make sure that young people have an education, I think it is very important that Harvard works with families to make itself available” to those who might have difficulty funding a Harvard education, Hinojosa said.

Duncan connected the University’s mission with that of the public school system he runs, saying both were in the service of the social good.

“I want to bring my perspective as the CEO of a $5 billion school system to engage Harvard more broadly in the challenge of improving urban education—simultaneously strengthening both the institution and the nation,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Sandra M. Faber is one of two academics running for a position. She earned her PhD in astronomy in 1972 and is currently a professor of that subject at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Faber wrote in an e-mail that her job as a faculty member from a public university would bring a unique point of view to the Board. She also cited her experience as a scientist as an important perspective she could contribute.

“Participation in one or more astronomical facilities is under discussion [at Harvard], and I can bring first-hand knowledge from the astronomical community on this issue,” she wrote.

Robert N. Shapiro ’72, who is also a 1978 graduate of HLS, is a lawyer at Boston-based law firm Ropes and Gray and a past president of HAA and the Harvard Law School Association.

He also noted that meeting applicants for the Harvard-Cambridge Scholarships committee, which he has helped lead for 25 years, “has kept me in contact with current students and given me a keen awareness of life at Harvard College.”

This spring’s candidates also include Henry W. McGee III, a 1974 graduate of Harvard Business School (HBS) and the current president of HBO Video, and Ann Moore, a 1978 graduate of HBS who has served as chairman and CEO of Time, Inc. since July 2002. Moore has been listed as one of Fortune Magazine’s “Most Powerful Women.”

Also running is Leila T. Fawaz, who earned her AM and PhD at Harvard in ’72 and ’79, respectively. Fawaz is currently a professor of history and diplomacy at Tufts University.

The remaining candidate is Emily Pulitzer, who earned her AM in 1963 and is president of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis, Mo.

Ballots must be received by June 2, and the new overseers will be announced at this year’s commencement exercises on June 8.