Katherine N. Lapp, who has served as Harvard’s executive vice president since 2009, announced Thursday that she will step down from the role this summer. In a message to the Harvard community, President Larry Bacow thanked Lapp for more than a decade of service and leadership and announced that Meredith Weenick ’90, M.B.A. ’02, who currently serves as vice president for campus services, will become the University’s new executive vice president.
As the University’s chief administrative officer, Lapp has led Harvard’s administrative and operational functions since 2009. She played an integral role alongside Bacow and Provost Alan Garber in managing the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including surveillance, testing, and tracing procedures, the technology infrastructure that enabled remote learning, and the return of students, staff, faculty, and other academic personnel to campus.
“Katie has made a profound difference at Harvard since her arrival in 2009, deftly leading our administrative, business, and operational efforts through times of transition, uncertainty, and upheaval,” Bacow said in his message to the community. “There is not a part of Harvard untouched by her outstanding service.”
Bacow also lauded Lapp’s leadership in Harvard’s efforts around sustainability, capital planning, and Allston, as well as in strengthening operational areas, including human resources, information technology, and finance. “In the wake of the Great Recession, she brought renewed focus and discipline to the work of planning and budgeting across the University,” he said. He noted that she has also “inspired Harvard to think creatively about how to preserve and advance our mission despite an ever-changing landscape.”
Lapp joined Harvard from the University of California as the effects of the global financial crisis were being felt across higher education. She has been credited with bolstering the University’s financial planning efforts, instituting University-wide budgeting processes and modernizing administrative processes. She leaves Harvard on firm financial footing, with robust and consistent planning processes, resilient technology and systems, and well-exercised risk and emergency management procedures.
“I can honestly say I have enjoyed every single day of my time at Harvard,” Lapp said. “I have had the opportunity to collaborate with the most capable and dedicated colleagues one could wish for, an unrivaled group of talented leaders, administrators, and staff who work tirelessly in support of this great institution’s mission. That commitment was never more apparent than when responding to the myriad challenges of the 27 months since the pandemic descended on the campus and across the globe. I am grateful for the abundant support, collegiality, and friendship that I have experienced as a part of this team, and I will miss it.”
Lapp has led Harvard’s planning and development efforts in Allston, including overseeing the creation of the award-winning Science and Engineering Complex, development at Barry’s Corner, and plans for an Enterprise Research Campus. As part of her portfolio, and alongside Weenick, Lapp oversaw Harvard’s on-campus sustainability efforts, including meeting initial targets of a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the decade leading up to 2016. She also serves on the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, which brings together civic and business leaders in the design and implementation of Boston’s climate adaptation and mitigation strategies.
“There is something more to Katie that I believe truly distinguishes her,” Bacow said. “Throughout my presidency, and especially since March 2020, she has demonstrated a level of grit and determination that has inspired everyone around her. Our community would not be in as good a shape as we are now without her steady hand and constant effort, by which I mean an unfailing and unflinching dedication to everything in her purview.”
The executive vice president serves within the University’s central administration and as a member of the president’s senior management team, overseeing the financial, administrative, human resources, and capital planning functions of central administration, as well as administrative aspects of information technology.
Weenick takes on the role after eight years leading Harvard’s campus services operations. She was appointed vice president for campus services in 2014 after serving as chief financial officer for the city of Boston, where she oversaw its capital and operating budgets, as well as debt and investment management, financial auditing and reporting, and risk management.
“It is an honor to be able to serve the University that has meant so much to me in this new role, and I am grateful to President Bacow for the opportunity to lead a remarkable administrative team on behalf of Harvard,” Weenick said. “Katie Lapp has set a high bar and built an organization that is effective, innovative, inclusive, and focused on the best ways to enable success for the staff, students, faculty, and researchers who make Harvard what it is. I look forward to building on these efforts, alongside so many thoughtful leaders and colleagues at Harvard and in our broader communities, and to advancing Harvard’s academic mission and work in the world.”