Campus & Community

Everhart named Overseers president for 2004-05

4 min read

Thomas E. Everhart ’53, president emeritus of the California Institute of Technology, has been elected president of Harvard’s Board of Overseers for 2004-05. He will succeed C. Dixon Spangler Jr. M.B.A. ’56, following Commencement.

Elected by Harvard alumni to a six-year term as Overseer in 1999, Everhart led Caltech from 1987 to 1997, while also serving as professor of electrical engineering and applied physics. Previously, he served as a faculty member and senior administrator at the University of Illinois and Cornell, and before that on the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley.

“Tom Everhart is a highly accomplished and admired university leader who has served Harvard with thoughtfulness and distinction as a member of the Board of Overseers,” said President Lawrence H. Summers. “He has been an insightful guide and wise counselor not only within his own domain of engineering and applied science, but across a broad range of academic and administrative domains. I look forward to the continuing benefit of his expertise and experience in the academic year ahead.”

“It was an honor to be elected as an Overseer by fellow alumni in 1999,” Everhart said, “and it is now both an honor and a responsibility to be elected as president of the Overseers by my colleagues on the board, a diverse and talented group of women and men. All of us have gained a great deal from our Harvard education, and as Overseers we have an opportunity to benefit Harvard through advice and counsel, as the University strives to excel and improve in a rapidly changing world. Such service is a real privilege.”

As an Overseer, Everhart has chaired the board’s standing committee on natural and applied sciences, as well as the visiting committee to the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences. A member of the Overseers executive committee since 2001, he serves on the governing boards’ Joint Committee on Appointments and on the Overseers standing committee on the Schools, the college, and continuing education. He was one of three Overseers who served on the University’s presidential search committee in 2000-01.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard College, Everhart received the M.Sc. degree in engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1955. He continued his studies at the University of Cambridge as a Marshall Scholar, earning a Ph.D. in 1958. He then spent 20 years on the Berkeley faculty, in electrical engineering and computer science, before becoming dean of the College of Engineering and Professor of Electrical Engineering at Cornell in 1979.

In 1984, Everhart went on to serve as chancellor of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, before being named as president of Caltech in 1987. His decade of service was marked by Caltech’s construction of the Beckman Institute (for multidisciplinary research in the chemical and biological sciences), the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, the Moore Laboratory of Engineering, and the Fairchild Library, as well as the successful completion of Caltech’s $350 million campaign.

During an extensive research career, Everhart focused his efforts on the generation and application of very-small-diameter electron beams, first to scanning electron microscopy and later to microfabrication. A Guggenheim Fellow in 1974-75, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1978. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). His honors include the IEEE’s Centennial Medal in 1984 and the Benjamin Garver Lamme Award of the American Society for Engineering Education in 1989. He has also been elected as a member of the Boehmische Physical Society and as a foreign member of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Long active on various advisory bodies, Everhart has served on the Council of the National Academy of Engineering, the Advisory Board to the U.S. Secretary of Energy, and the executive committee of the Council on Competitiveness.

The Board of Overseers of Harvard College was created by the General Court of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay in 1642, six years after the founding of what is now Harvard University. With 30 elected members, the board is the larger of Harvard’s two governing boards, the other being the President and Fellows of Harvard College (also known as the Harvard Corporation). Members of the Board of Overseers are elected annually by holders of Harvard degrees. Typically, five new members are elected each year to six-year terms. The Overseers are responsible for providing advice and counsel to the University on a wide range of issues important to Harvard’s future, for consenting to certain acts of the Harvard Corporation, and for the visitation of Harvard’s Schools and departments in order to assess the quality of their programs and recommend improvements.