Campus & Community

Waxman, Adams will lead Harvard Overseers

5 min read

New senior officers chosen

Seth P. Waxman ’73, former U.S. solicitor general and one of the nation’s leading lawyers, has been elected president of Harvard’s Board of Overseers for 2010-11.

Mitchell L. Adams ’66, M.B.A. ’69, executive director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, will become vice chair of the board’s executive committee.

Both Waxman and Adams will be serving the final year of their overseer terms in 2010-11.  They will assume their new roles following Commencement this spring, succeeding Merrick B. Garland ’74, J.D. ’77, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and Ann M. Fudge, M.B.A. ’77, former chair and chief executive officer of Young & Rubicam Brands.

“Seth Waxman and Mitch Adams exemplify the dedication, insight, energy, and constant concern for Harvard’s well-being that our overseers bring to their work on the University’s behalf,” said President Drew Faust.  “I look forward to their leadership and to working even more closely with them next year.”

Waxman is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of the law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and is a member of the faculty of the Georgetown University Law Center.  He has litigated several of the most consequential cases of the past two decades and is widely recognized for his deep commitment to pro bono legal representation.  Among other distinctions, he is among the few practicing lawyers elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Born and raised in Connecticut, Waxman graduated from Harvard College, summa cum laude, in 1973.  After graduation, he spent a year as a Rockefeller Fellow in a small village in Kenya.  He then studied at Yale Law School, where he was managing editor of the Yale Law Journal and received his J.D. in 1977.

Following a judicial clerkship, Waxman spent 19 years in private practice before holding several senior positions in the U.S. Department of Justice from 1994 to 1997.  He served as solicitor general from 1997 to 2001, with responsibility for conducting all litigation on behalf of the United States in the nation’s highest court.

“The past few years have been challenging ones for Harvard, no less than other institutions of higher education, but these challenges present real opportunities for innovation, collaboration, and leadership,” Waxman  said. “All of us on the board are deeply committed to helping Harvard realize those opportunities, in service of its highest ideals.”

Elected an overseer in 2005, Waxman has served on the board’s executive committee since 2008.  He chairs the board’s social sciences committee and is past chair of its committee on institutional policy.  A member of the visiting committees to the College, the Government Department, and the Peabody Museum, Waxman was an elected director of the Harvard Alumni Association from 2000 to 2003.  He and his wife, Debra Goldberg, have three children.

Mitchell Adams has served since 2001 as executive director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, an independent public agency dedicated to the formation, retention, and expansion of technology-related enterprises in Massachusetts. He received both his bachelor’s degree (1966) and his M.B.A. (1969) from Harvard.

Early in his career, he was the budget director of the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston (1975-78), then dean for finance and administration at Harvard Medical School (1978-82), before becoming vice chancellor for administration and finance at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center (1982-88).  He went on to serve as the commissioner of revenue for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts during the administration of Gov. William F. Weld from 1991 to 1998.  He later served as chair and CEO of HTW Inc., a developer of advanced data-mining tools for health care payment systems, before joining the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative in 2001.

As a Harvard overseer, Adams is a member of the board’s executive committee, as well as vice chair of its committee on Schools, the College, and continuing education.  He is a past member of the Harvard Alumni Association executive committee, and has served on the visiting committees to the Business School, the College, the Medical School, and information technology.

His past board service includes chairing the board of the Handel and Haydn Society and the finance committee of the board of trustees of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates.

Adams lives in Dedham and is married to Kevin M. Smith ’76.

First created as the “Committee as to the colledg at New Towne” by order of the General Court of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay in 1637, the Board of Overseers dates to the earliest days of Harvard College.  It 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 Overseers are elected each year to six-year terms.   Drawing on the diverse experience of its members, the board exerts broad influence over Harvard’s strategic directions, provides counsel to the University’s leadership on priorities and plans, has the power of consent to certain actions of the Corporation, and directs the visitation process by which various Harvard Schools and departments are periodically reviewed and assessed.