In the search for Harvard’s next president, Susan L. Carney ’73 will bring something indispensable to the 15-member search committee: time behind enemy lines.
For more than a decade, Carney, now a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, worked at Yale in the Office of General Counsel. There, she worked closely with top Yale administrators to address some of the most pressing legal challenges facing higher education—experience, her colleagues expect, will inform her approach to the search.
Carney began working at Yale’s legal office in 1998, soon transitioning to serve as the Deputy General Counsel in 2001. She made her way through the ranks to become Acting General Counsel at Yale from July to December 2008.
Her career at Yale involved cases covering “an extraordinary range of issues,” according to former Yale University President Richard C. Levin. Carney worked on cases dealing with ethics, business law, research regulation, and international agreements.
“From her professional vantage point, she came to understand intimately the workings of a large, complex and excellent research university,” Levin wrote in an email.
In May 2010, Former President Barack Obama appointed Carney to her current position as an appellate judge. Now, she has circled back to Harvard to serve on the committee that is looking for University President Drew G. Faust’s successor. Carney is one of three members of Harvard’s Board of Overseers, the University’s second-largest governing body on the 15-person committee. The other two are President of the Board of Overseers Scott A. Abell ’72 and vice chair of the executive committee Tracy P. Palandjian ’93.
According to Levin H. Campbell ’83, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Carney’s extensive legal experience is central to what her contributions might be over the course of the search.
Prior to her career at Yale, Carney worked as Campbell’s clerk in Boston and as an Associate General Counsel to the Peace Corps in Washington. She was the president of the Harvard Law School Association of the District of Columbia in 1979.
But her experience at Yale, according to Campbell, gives Carney “some perspective as to what a president of Harvard might be dealing with too and what qualities she might decide are important for a president to have.”
Former Yale Corporation member Dorothy K. Robinson agreed. She wrote in an email that Carney “is an extraordinarily thoughtful person, a superb listener, and deeply knowledgeable about higher education, and I am certain that she brings these qualities to her work with the committee.”
“Few people have seen up close so many leaders of the global higher education community. She knows what it takes to be a successful leader,” Levin wrote.