Campus & Community

Smith To Conclude Service With Harvard Corporation

4 min read

Richard A. Smith, a member of the Harvard Corporation since 1991, will conclude his service as a Fellow of Harvard College at the end of the 1999-2000 academic year.

Smith is the chairman and former chief executive officer of Harcourt General Inc., and of The Neiman Marcus Group, and has for decades been a leading figure in the Boston nonprofit community.

“Dick Smith is a person whose commitment to Harvard is deep and unequivocal,” said President Neil L. Rudenstine. “He is also a person of great integrity who cares about the highest standards in every aspect of what we do. He has brought exceptional talents to the Corporation, including his understanding of complex institutions, of financial and organizational matters, and of research and education in the health sciences.

“Beyond all this, he has always thought broadly and wisely about the University, and about the unusually dynamic nature of this particular moment in Harvard’s history,” Rudenstine added. “He has been a friend, counselor, and constant source of ideas about how Harvard can contribute to the world around it. For that, and much else, I thank him on behalf of all of us.”

Said Smith: “Service at Harvard over the last decade of the millennium has been, for me, an awesome responsibility. It has challenged my academic capabilities and pressured me to mine my business and social service career experience in order to contribute as much as possible. I’ll remain very grateful for the opportunity.

“In my opinion,” Smith continued, “Harvard is at the peak of its intellectual and financial strength, and is poised to render continuing great service to mankind.”

Smith graduated from the Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge in 1942 and received his SB from Harvard College, Class of ’46 (’44). Shortly after graduation, and service in the Navy, he went to work for General Cinema Corp., then a family-controlled drive-in theater chain. In the decades since, he led the company’s development into a diversified enterprise now known as Harcourt General Inc., a Fortune 500 company with interests now concentrated in publishing and an array of educational products and services. He has been chairman of the board since 1961, and served as chief executive officer from 1961 to 1991, and from 1997 until this past November. In addition, he has served as chairman and CEO of The Neiman Marcus Group and GC Companies Inc.

A mainstay of the Boston nonprofit community, Smith served as chairman of the board of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which in 1997 named its new research building for Smith and his wife, Susan. He also has chaired the board of Facing History and Ourselves, and has been involved as a trustee, director, or member of such organizations as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Beth Israel Hospital, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and the United Cerebral Palsy Research and Educational Foundation.

Smith served as a Harvard Overseer from 1989 to 1991, before his election to the Corporation. He was for eight years a member of the governing boards’ Joint Committee on Appointments, and he sits on the executive committee of the Committee on University Resources as well as the board of directors of the Harvard Management Company. He is a past member of the Committee to Visit the College.

The Harvard Corporation, formally known as the President and Fellows of Harvard College, is the University’s executive governing board and the smaller of Harvard’s two boards, the other being the 30-member Board of Overseers. In addition to Rudenstine and Smith, the President and Fellows currently include D. Ronald Daniel (Treasurer), MBA ’54; Hanna Holborn Gray, PhD ’57; Judith Richards Hope, JD ’64; James R. Houghton, AB ’58, MBA ’62; and Robert G. Stone, AB ’45 (’47).

Smith joins Hope as one of two members of the Corporation who plan to step down from their posts in the coming months. Rudenstine said that a search to identify their successors is progressing well. Confidential letters regarding the search may be directed to the Secretary to the Corporation, Harvard University, Loeb House, 17 Quincy Street, Cambridge.