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Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow Bill Lee ’72 Says Corporation Will Continue to Meet on Schedule, Bacow Updates Him Daily

Loeb House, where the Harvard Corporation sometimes meets.
Loeb House, where the Harvard Corporation sometimes meets. By Amy Y. Li
By Michelle G. Kurilla and Ruoqi Zhang, Crimson Staff Writers

As the COVID-19 pandemic escalates, the Harvard Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — will continue to meet in accordance with its planned schedule, according to an email from the Corporation’s senior fellow William F. Lee ’72.

Last week, University President Lawrence S. Bacow announced that Harvard is moving instruction online due to the pandemic and asked students not to return to campus after spring break. Five Harvard affiliates have tested positive for the virus, according to the Harvard University Health Services website.

The United States had reported 10,442 COVID-19 cases and 150 deaths as of Thursday afternoon, with 256 cases in Massachusetts, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lee wrote that the Corporation will continue its meetings digitally.

“The Corporation will maintain its planned meeting schedule, but will use technology to allow us to comply with all of the guidance being provided regarding meetings,” Lee wrote. “In these unprecedented times, it is important that we continue to meet, even if remotely.”

The smaller of Harvard’s two governing bodies, the thirteen-member Harvard Corporation is the oldest corporation in the United States. The body also includes the University President, who sets the board’s agenda but does not vote at meetings.

The Corporation is charged with tasks ranging from setting Harvard’s budgets to selecting the deans of individual schools. Corporation members also help raise money for the University and serve as a sounding board when the President makes major decisions.

Lee added that he receives daily updates from Bacow.

“President Bacow has updated me on a daily basis on developments concerning the Harvard community and we have regularly updated the full Corporation,” he wrote.

Last week, administrators from Harvard’s 12 degree-granting schools and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study sent school-specific instructions after Bacow announced that Harvard would move to remote instruction beginning March 23. This announcement also stipulated that students not return to campus after spring break whenever possible.

Schools and administrative units across Harvard began a pilot of a remote work system for staff this week. Research at the Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Harvard School of Public Health, and Boston Children’s Hospital will be postponed — except for essential functions — between two weeks and two months.

School of Public Health School Dean Michelle A. Williams wrote in an email to the school’s affiliates that the novel coronavirus could pose one of the “biggest public health challenges we face in our lifetimes.”

COVID-19 has already infected more than 240,000 people and claimed almost 10,000 lives globally, according to a tally by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Last Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump declared COVID-19 a national emergency following a surge in confirmed cases nationwide and similar declarations by local and state governments. Some U.S. counties, including San Francisco County, have asked their residents to “shelter in place” and avoid going out.

—Staff writer Michelle G. Kurilla can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MichelleKurilla.

—Staff writer Ruoqi Zhang can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RuoqiZhang3.

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