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University Postpones Board of Overseers, Harvard Alumni Association Elections Until July Due to Virus

Many of Harvard's governance meetings take place in Loeb House.
Many of Harvard's governance meetings take place in Loeb House. By Quinn G. Perini
By Michelle G. Kurilla, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard will postpone its annual Board of Overseers and Harvard Alumni Association directorship elections to July.

In an email to alumni, William F. Lee ’72, who serves as the Senior Fellow of the Harvard Corporation, and Michael H. Brown ’83, who serves as the President of the Board of Overseers, wrote that the global pandemic created uncertainty surrounding the 2020 Harvard elections.

“Rather than launch the elections right now in the face of such uncertainty, the governing boards decided at their meetings over the past two days to shift the start of the elections from April 1 until early to mid-July,” they wrote. “By then, we hope the disruption being experienced by people in communities worldwide will have at least begun to abate.”

The Board of Overseers — the University’s second-highest governing body — is responsible for advising Harvard’s top administrators, providing input on the University’s direction, and approving certain actions taken by the Harvard Corporation, the University’s highest governing body.

HAA’s board of directors serves as an advisory board to develop alumni volunteer leadership and engagement. An HAA Committee is also responsible for the nomination of candidates for the University’s annual Board of Overseers election.

All Harvard degree holders are eligible to vote in the elections via traditional paper ballot or online, except for two groups: those in University instruction and governance positions and members of the Harvard Corporation.

Lee and Brown noted in the email that 43 percent of voters chose the mail-in paper ballot method last year despite the online voting option.

“At a moment when mail systems may not function in predictable ways, and when many voters who receive Harvard correspondence at their business addresses have been forced by circumstance to remain at home, deferring the start date seems the best path to assuring a sound election,” they wrote.

Lee and Brown wrote that they have been in touch with the individual candidates regarding the announcement to delay the election.

“This should allow the candidates who are elected to take up their roles in time for the first regularly scheduled meetings of the Board of Overseers and the HAA directors this fall,” they wrote. “We have been in touch with the candidates for both elections to make them aware of the schedule change and to thank them for their understanding.”

They added that they hope alumni will vote in the delayed election.

“More information about the elections will be coming your way this summer as the start date approaches,” Lee and Brown wrote. “We do hope you will vote when the time comes. Even more, we hope you and your loved ones stay safe and well.”

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

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