Campus & Community

Saris, Pelton elected senior officers of Board of Overseers

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Federal Judge Patti B. Saris ’73, J.D.’76 has been elected president of Harvard’s Board of Overseers for 2005-06. M. Lee Pelton Ph.D. ’84, the president of Willamette University, will serve as vice chair of the board’s executive committee.Elected by Harvard alumni in 2000 to serve a six-year term as Overseer, Saris has been a U.S. District Court judge in Boston since 1994, having earlier served on the Massachusetts Superior Court. Pelton, also elected to the board in 2000, has led Willamette since 1998, having previously served as dean of the college at Colgate and then Dartmouth.”Patti Saris and Lee Pelton are two thoughtful and experienced Overseers who have both rendered great service to Harvard over the years,” said President Lawrence H. Summers. “The University is fortunate to have the benefit of their wisdom and counsel, and I look forward to working with them in the year ahead.”As an Overseer, Saris currently chairs the board’s standing committee on social sciences. A member of the Overseers executive committee since 2002, she also serves on the Overseers standing committees on institutional policy and on alumni affairs and development. In recent years she has served on visiting committees to the College, the Graduate School of Education, and Harvard Law School. Born and raised in Boston, Saris attended Girls’ Latin School before graduating magna cum laude from Radcliffe in 1973 and cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1976. After a judicial clerkship and two years in private law practice, she served as staff counsel for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, from 1979 to 1981. She was an assistant U.S. attorney in Boston for four years before becoming a U.S. magistrate judge in 1986. She was appointed a Massachusetts Superior Court judge in 1989, and to the federal bench in 1994. Long active in various Harvard alumni organizations, Saris has chaired several Harvard Law School reunions, and in 1998 she was elected chief marshal of her 25th college reunion class. She is co-author of “Congress: The First Branch of Government” (1983) and “Massachusetts Evidence: A Courtroom Reference” (1997). She also lectures frequently on intellectual property law.Saris chairs the Defender Services Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which addresses issues facing indigent defendants. Her honors include the Haskell Cohn Judicial Service Award (1997) and the Boston Bar Association’s Citation of Judicial Excellence (2003).Lee Pelton chairs the Board of Overseers’ standing committee on humanities and arts. A member of the board’s executive committee since 2003, he also serves on the committees on alumni affairs and development and on Schools, the College, and continuing education. He is a member of the governing boards’ Joint Committee on Appointments, chair of the Committee to Visit Harvard College, and a member of the visiting committees on athletics and continuing education.A graduate of Wichita State College, Pelton received the Ph.D. in English literature from Harvard, with a dissertation on Tennyson. He was senior tutor in Winthrop House from 1981 to 1986 and lecturer on English and American literature from 1983 to 1986. He went on to serve as dean of students and then dean of the college at Colgate, and professor and dean of the college at Dartmouth, before assuming the presidency of Willamette in 1998. A scholar of 19th century British prose and poetry, he continues to teach on a variety of subjects, ranging from Athens in the first century to post-apartheid South Africa.Widely active in the American higher education community, he serves or has recently served on the boards of the American Council on Education, where he is currently chair, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the American Association of Higher Education, as well as on NCAA Presidents’ Council. He has also served on the Alumni Council of Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences since 1994.