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Harvard Names President and Vice Chair of the Executive Committee of the Board of Overseers

Loeb House, which sits in Harvard Yard, plays host to meetings of several of the University's top governing bodies.
Loeb House, which sits in Harvard Yard, plays host to meetings of several of the University's top governing bodies. By Ryan N. Gajarawala
By Michelle G. Kurilla, Crimson Staff Writer

R. Martin Chávez ’85 and Beth Y. Karlan ’78 will serve as the Board of Overseers’ President and Vice Chair of the Executive Committee for the 2020-2021 academic year, the University announced in a press release Friday.

Both Chávez and Karlan were elected to the Board in 2015; they will serve in its top leadership positions for the end of their six year terms.

The Board of Overseers — Harvard's second highest governing body — is charged with advising the University’s top administrators, providing counsel on the University’s direction, and authorizing certain actions taken by the Harvard Corporation, the University’s highest governing body.

The Board was previously led by Michael Brown ’83, the co-founder, former chief operating executive, and now senior adviser of the public service organization City Year, and Lesley Friedman Rosenthal ’86, the chief operating officer and corporate secretary of The Juilliard School.

In the release, University President Lawrence S. Bacow called Chávez and Karlan “widely admired leaders” and “deeply dedicated alumni.”

“Marty’s expertise in technology and finance, and Beth’s expertise in biomedical research and health care promise to serve Harvard especially well in these challenging times,” he said. “We are fortunate to have two such experienced and devoted Harvard citizens to lead the board. I look forward to working even more closely with both of them during the next academic year.”

Chávez studied biochemical sciences at the College while concurrently earning a masters degree in computer science, and went on to study medical information science at Stanford. He is currently a member of the Stanford Medicine Board of Fellows, the board of trustees of the Institute for Advanced Study, and the board of directors of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

On the Board of Overseers, Chávez leads the standing committee on finance, administration, and management.

“It is an immense honor to be elected president of the Board of Overseers,” Chávez said in the press release. “Under the extraordinary leadership of President Larry Bacow, and alongside the members of the governing boards, administration, faculty, students, and alumni, I will do my part to guide the University through and beyond this most challenging time.”

Karlan, who graduated magna cum laude from the College, is also an alumna of Harvard Medical School. She previously served as the vice president of the Medical School’s Alumni Council and as chair of the Alumni Fund Committee.

A member of the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles since 1989, Karlan is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

Serving as an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, Karlan is a member of the National Cancer Advisory Board and leads the scientific advisory committee of the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance.

As a member of the Board of Overseers, she leads the standing committee on natural and applied sciences.

Karlan said in the press release that she is “honored” to work with the University’s leadership.

“As a physician-scientist and caregiver, I bring my clinical experience and perspective to our discussions of strategies that support students’ personal transformation and promote their wellness — especially in the midst of this pandemic,” she said.

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

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