Diane E. Lopez — current deputy general counsel for the University — will be Harvard’s next vice president and general counsel, the University announced Friday.
Lopez will take over June 1 as current Senior Vice President and General Counsel Robert W. Iuliano ’83 departs for Gettysburg College to serve as the school’s next president. The University announced Iuliano’s decision to leave the University on Jan. 30.
In a press release, Lopez said she is “grateful” for University President Lawrence S. Bacow’s trust and thanked Iuliano for his leadership.
“For 25 years, I’ve had the extraordinary privilege of working with terrific colleagues across Harvard to address legal challenges and help them to do what they do best. I’m honored now to have this opportunity, especially at a time when Harvard and higher education face legal issues that are so important,” Lopez said.
Bacow said in the release that Lopez has “a deep understanding of the complex array of laws and regulations” that impact institutions of higher education.
“Diane is an outstanding lawyer and colleague, admired across Harvard for her excellent judgment, her exemplary professionalism, her collaborative style, and her strong academic values,” Bacow said.
Lopez first came to Harvard in 1994 as a University attorney in the Office of General Counsel. Since 2011, Lopez has served as deputy general counsel under Iuliano, dealing with legal issues such as stem cell research, scientific misconduct, and student affairs, according to the release.
A graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Columbia Law School, Lopez spent eight years in New York City working at the international law firm O’Melveny & Myers, where she focused on commercial litigation and pro bono work.
Lopez said that in the coming years, the office’s work could receive both local and national attention.
“Here, almost every week you have something that you’re working on that is at least going to get attention in [T]he Crimson, as well as local and often national media attention,” Lopez said in the release. “We have many legal challenges, in part because Harvard is an iconic institution of higher education.”
Lopez will step in at a time when Harvard is facing a number of lawsuits, including a high-profile admissions case brought forth by anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions that alleges the College discriminates against Asian-American applicants in its admissions processes.
The case was tried in a Boston court in the fall, and federal Judge Allison D. Burroughs is expected to issue a ruling in the coming weeks. Some experts say the case has the potential to eventually be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Harvard is also facing two lawsuits brought by a group of parent organizations for national fraternities and sororities alongside one Harvard fraternity and three College students that challenge the College’s single gender social group sanctions. The sanctions, which took effect in 2017 with the Class of 2021, bar members of single-gender final clubs and Greek organizations from holding campus leadership positions, captaining varsity athletic teams, and receiving the College’s endorsement for prestigious fellowships like the Rhodes.
With 25 years of experience, Lopez said working in the Office of General Counsel has been “exciting.”
“You get up every day and you think you know what you’re going to do that day, and then some item hits, and you’re off to the races doing something else,” Lopez said in the release.
—Staff writer Aidan F. Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AidanRyanNH.