HBS Elects Co-Presidents of Student Association

The incoming co-presidents of the Harvard Business School Student Association have set an agenda for their upcoming term that focuses on transforming the Business School’s existing social spaces and increasing communication between students and the administration.

Laura J. Merritt and Kunal A. Modi, who were elected co-presidents earlier this month, will begin their term on April 9.

“[Our] platform is really around increasing the heart and vibrancy of campus,” Merritt said. “There’s so much activity that goes on, but we really want to push that activity to the center of campus.”

Modi said that he and Merritt want to “reimagine” campus spaces, including the Spangler Student Center, Spangler Lawn, and the on-campus residential communities, where nearly half of the Business School’s students reside. Their proposals include college football Saturdays at the Spangler Grille and free movie screenings on Spangler Lawn.

“We want to make Spangler Lawn...a public square where people are hanging out, congregating, and giving us the space to build those relationships to get to know each other,” Modi said. “More than anything, HBS is about the people.”

As the Business School experiments with a new curriculum for first-year MBA students, Merritt and Modi said they will communicate student feedback to administrators throughout the academic upheaval.

The hallmark of the new program is a required course called Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership and Development—FIELD, for short—which sends all students to complete a project for a foreign company during January break.

The current Student Association co-presidents, Jonathan R. Dick and Ifunanya “Funa” O. Maduka, will work closely with Merritt and Modi over the next few weeks to provide a smooth transition, Dick said.

“I think Funa and I are very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve in the past year,” Dick said. “On the one hand, you want to do more and keep going with what you’re doing, but it’s been pretty inspiring to see Kunal and Laura come in and the enthusiasm they bring.”

Merritt and Modi are both currently pursuing a Master of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School in addition to an MBA degree from the Business School. They have been close friends throughout their time at Harvard, Modi said.

“We both understood that this is not a president role, it’s a co-president role, and so we felt that the partnership aspect was really important,” Modi said. “We thought that we would bring a lot of complementary skills and personalities to the role.”

—Staff writer Brian C. Zhang can be reached at