Campus & Community

Harvard launches presidential search

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Committees will canvass University and beyond for suggestions on a new leader

The Harvard Corporation has launched the search for a new president of Harvard University, in light of Drew Faust’s recent announcement that she will step down at the end of the 2017-18 academic year.

Under the University charter, a new president is elected by the Corporation, with the counsel and consent of the Board of Overseers. Consistent with past practice, the search committee will consist of the members of the Corporation other than the president, together with three Overseers.

The search will include broad outreach to members of the Harvard community and the wider world of higher education. A request for advice and nominations is being sent to all Harvard faculty, students, staff, and alumni, as well as selected others, soliciting their views of the opportunities and challenges facing the University, and seeking counsel regarding the search. In addition, the search committee intends to pursue conversations with a wide array of individuals and groups, both within and beyond Harvard.

To help encourage and structure input from the internal Harvard community, the Corporation will appoint advisory committees of faculty, students, and staff. Each will bring together individuals from across the University. The advisory committees will play an important role in assisting the search committee in gathering and conveying views about Harvard’s future opportunities and challenges, and about the questions and qualities that the search committee members should have foremost in mind in evaluating nominees for the presidency. It is anticipated that the chairs of the advisory committees will sit with the search committee from time to time, and that representatives of the search committee will periodically attend meetings of the advisory committees to ensure coordinated efforts and timely information flow.

The search committee also plans to consult with a range of alumni, including the Harvard Alumni Association executive committee, as well as numerous higher education leaders and others beyond Harvard who can offer valuable perspectives. The Board of Overseers, with 30 members elected by Harvard alumni and broadly representative of the University’s graduates, will play a key consultative role in the search, while also offering a further channel for alumni to convey their views.

“As we undertake the important task of seeking a new president, we are eager to hear from people across the Harvard community who have views they wish to share about the University’s future directions and leadership,” said William F. Lee, the Corporation’s senior fellow and chair of the search committee. “What we learn from faculty, students, staff, and alumni about their aspirations for Harvard will mean a great deal to all of us on the search committee as we aim to identify a worthy successor to President Faust. I hope the many people who care about Harvard will take the opportunity to be in touch.”

Correspondence regarding the search may be sent by mail to the Harvard University Presidential Search Committee, Loeb House, 17 Quincy St., Cambridge, MA 02138, or by e-mail to The search committee will hold the correspondence in strict confidence.

The members of the search committee are:

  • William F. Lee (chair), A.B. ’72, senior fellow of Harvard College, partner and former co-managing partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP;
  • Scott A. Abell, A.B. ’72, Harvard Overseer, retired chair and CEO, Abell & Associates, Inc.;
  • Lawrence S. Bacow, J.D. ’76, M.P.P. ’76, Ph.D. ’78, fellow of Harvard College, president emeritus, Tufts University, leader-in-residence, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School;
  • James W. Breyer, M.B.A. ’87, fellow of Harvard College, founder and CEO, Breyer Capital;
  • Susan L. Carney, A.B. ’73, J.D. ’77, Harvard Overseer, judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit;
  • Kenneth I. Chenault, J.D. ’76, fellow of Harvard College, chairman and CEO, American Express Co.;
  • Paul J. Finnegan, A.B. ’75, M.B.A. ’82, treasurer of Harvard College, co-CEO, Madison Dearborn Partners;
  • Susan L. Graham, A.B. ’64, fellow of Harvard College, Pehong Chen Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Emerita, University of California, Berkeley;
  • Jessica Tuchman Mathews, A.B. ’67, fellow of Harvard College, distinguished fellow and former president, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace;
  • Karen Gordon Mills, A.B. ’75, M.B.A. ’77, fellow of Harvard College, former administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration, senior fellow, Harvard Business School, president, MMP Group;
  • Joseph J. O’Donnell, A.B. ’67, M.B.A. ’71, fellow of Harvard College, chair, Centerplate Inc.;
  • Tracy P. Palandjian, A.B. ’93, M.B.A. ’97, Harvard Overseer, CEO and co-founder, Social Finance Inc.;
  • David M. Rubenstein, fellow of Harvard College, co-founder and co-CEO, The Carlyle Group;
  • Shirley M. Tilghman, LL.D. ’04 (hon.), fellow of Harvard College, president emerita and professor of molecular biology and public affairs, Princeton University;
  • Theodore V. Wells Jr., J.D. ’76, M.B.A. ’76, fellow of Harvard College, partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.