The search for new members of the Harvard Corporation is likely to yield candidates with more specialized areas of expertise, according to senior fellow of the Corporation Robert D. Reischauer ’63.
Historically, individuals selected to serve on the Corporation—the University’s highest governing body—have been generalists with a broad spectrum of knowledge and skills, as the size of the Corporation has been limited to seven members—six fellows and the University president.
In December, the Corporation announced a significant overhaul of its governance structure, which will expand the group to 13 members. The increased size will allow for more specialization in areas important to the University, according to Reischauer.
The Corporation has made a list of 10 or 12 important skills, and is currently looking “for people that fill two or three of them,” Reischauer said.
“We’ve sat down and had many conversations about what are the attributes and dimensions of potential members that we think would most strengthen the capacity of the Corporation,” he said.
The Corporation has solicited advice and suggestions of possible candidates from alumni and other members of the Harvard community.
Over 300 names of individuals have been submitted, according Reischauer.
Reischauer declined to say how many names remained on the list, except that “there are a lot fewer than 300.”
The Corporation will increase its size gradually, adding only a few members this year.
The report of the Governance Review Committee, which announced the changes, stated that “some adjustments will likely be necessary to assure appropriately staggered periods of service” as the body grows to its larger size.
University President Drew G. Faust said that she would like to have two or three new members of the Corporation in place by the start of the 2011-2012 academic year.
The Corporation’s reform also includes the creation of several new committees that will focus on issues such as finance, governance, capital planning and facilities.
Reischauer said that though the Corporation members have discussed the new committees, they are still in the process of formulating their charters.
The reforms also include term limits for Corporation members. Fellows will now be limited to six years in office with the possibility of a six-year extension.
After the 13-person Corporation is fully established, two new members will be selected every two years. This procedure means that the search process “is no longer an episodic exercise,” Reischauer said.
According to Faust, the Corporation is in the process of developing a system that the board will use regularly to generate new members.
From now on, the Corporation will create lists and keep track of individuals over time, examining their engagement with Harvard and their specific capacities, Reischauer said. This measure will help the Corporation to create a “pool” of potential candidates to draw from in the future, Faust said.
—Staff writer Zoe A. Y. Weinberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.