President and Fellows of Harvard College

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The President and Fellows of Harvard College (also called the Harvard Corporation or just the Corporation) is the smaller and more powerful of Harvard University's two governing boards, the other being its Board of Overseers. Together, the two boards exercise institutional roles more commonly consolidated into a board of trustees.[1]

Although the institution it governs has grown into a university of which Harvard College is one component, the corporation's formal title remains "The President and Fellows of Harvard College".[2]


In 1650, at the request of Harvard President Henry Dunster, the Great and General Court of Massachusetts issued the body's charter, making it now the oldest corporation in the Americas. The subsequent Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts confirmed that, despite the change in government due to the American Revolution, the corporation would continue to "have, hold, use, exercise and enjoy" its property and legal privileges.[3]

The corporation was probably originally intended to be a body of the school's resident instructors, similar to the fellows of an Oxbridge college.[citation needed] However, it fell into the now-familiar American model of a governing board—an outside body whose members are not involved in the institution's daily life, which meets periodically to consult with the day-to-day head, the president (whom it appoints). The Corporation is self-perpetuating, appointing new members to fill its own vacancies as they arise.

For most of its history, the Corporation consisted of six fellows in addition to the president. But after the abortive presidency of Lawrence Summers and a large endowment decline in 2008–2009, a year-long governance review was conducted. In December 2010, it announced that the Corporation's "composition, structure, and practices" would be greatly altered: the number of fellows would increase from six to twelve, with prescribed terms of service, and several new committees would endeavor to improve the group's integration with the activities of the University as a whole, especially its long-term planning.[4]

Current Membership[edit]

There are currently thirteen members of the Corporation, including the University president, who sets the agenda but does not vote.[5]

Name Degree Year appointed Occupation
Lawrence Bacow JD 1976, MPP 1976, PhD 1978 2011[6] President of Harvard University.
Timothy R. Barakett AB 1987, MBA 1993 2019[7] former CEO of Atticus Capital
Kenneth Chenault JD 1976 2014[8] former CEO of American Express
Paul Finnegan, Treasurer AB 1975, MBA 1982 2012[9] co-CEO of Madison Dearborn Partners
Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar AB 1993 2019[7] Justice of the Supreme Court of California
William F. Lee, Senior Fellow AB 1972 2010 co-managing partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
Carolyn Martin PhD 1985 (University of Wisconsin–Madison) 2018[10] President of Amherst College
Karen Mills AB 1975, MBA 1977 2014[8] former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration
Diana L. Nelson AB 1985 2018[11] chair of Carlson Holdings
Penny Pritzker AB 1981 2018[10] former United States Secretary of Commerce
David Rubenstein JD 1973 (University of Chicago) 2017 co-CEO of The Carlyle Group
Shirley M. Tilghman LLD 2004 (Honorary) 2017 former president of Princeton University
Ted Wells JD 1976, MBA 1976 2013[12] partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison


  1. ^ "Leadership and Governance". Harvard University. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  2. ^ Chait, Richard P.; Daniel, D. Ronald; Lorsch, Jay W.; Rosovsky, Henry (May–June 2006). "Governing Harvard: A Harvard Magazine Roundtable". Harvard Magazine.
  3. ^ "Chapter V". Massachusetts Constitution.
  4. ^ "Governance Review Culminates in Changes to Harvard Corporation". Harvard Gazette. Harvard University. December 6, 2010. Retrieved December 6, 2010.
  5. ^ Dixon, Brandon J.; Parker, Claire E. (June 27, 2017). "The Harvard Corporation, Explained". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  6. ^ "Three to join Harvard Corporation". Harvard Gazette. Harvard University. May 25, 2011. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Two elected to Harvard Corporation". Harvard Gazette. Harvard University. February 11, 2019. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Kenneth Chenault and Karen Gordon Mills to join Harvard Corporation". Harvard Gazette. Harvard University. February 10, 2014. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  9. ^ "Finnegan elected to Corporation". Harvard Gazette. Harvard University. May 23, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Harvard Corporation elects two new members". Harvard Gazette. Harvard University. May 23, 2018. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  11. ^ "New Corporation member named". Harvard Gazette. Harvard University. February 10, 2020. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  12. ^ "Mathews and Wells elected to Harvard Corporation". Harvard Gazette. Harvard University. September 23, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2020.

External links[edit]