President and Fellows of Harvard College

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The President and Fellows of Harvard College (also called the Harvard Corporation) is the smaller of Harvard University's two governing boards, the other being its Board of Overseers.


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, the corporation would continue to "have, hold, use, exercise and enjoy" its property and legal privileges[1]. Although the institution it governs has grown into Harvard University (of which Harvard College is one of several components), the corporation's formal title remains the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

The corporation was probably originally intended to be a body of the school's resident instructors, similar to the fellows of an Oxbridge college. However, it early 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 was consisted of six fellows in addition to the president. But after the shortened 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 7 to 13, 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.[2]

Current Fellows[edit]

There are currently thirteen members of the Corporation. Their names, positions, and degrees that each received from a school of Harvard University are also shown below.

Name Degree Year appointed Occupation
Drew Gilpin Faust A.M. 2001 (honorary) 2007 President of Harvard University[3]
Lawrence S. Bacow J.D. 1976, M.P.P. 1976, Ph.D. 1978 2011[4] former President of Tufts University, President-elect of Harvard University
James W. Breyer M.B.A. 1987 2013[5] founder and CEO of Breyer Capital
Kenneth I. Chenault J.D. 1976 2014[6] Chairman and CEO of American Express
Paul J. Finnegan, Treasurer A.B. 1975, M.B.A. 1982 2012[7] co-CEO of Madison Dearborn Partners
Susan L. Graham A.B. 1964 2011[4] professor, University of California, Berkeley
William F. Lee, Senior Fellow A.B. 1972 2010 co-managing partner, WilmerHale
Jessica Tuchman Mathews A.B. 1967 2013[8] former President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Karen Gordon Mills A.B. 1975, M.B.A. 1977 2014[6] former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration
Joseph J. O’Donnell A.B. 1967, M.B.A. 1971 2011[4] Chairman of the Board of Centerplate, Inc.
David Rubenstein J.D. 1973, (University of Chicago) 2017 co-CEO, The Carlyle Group
Shirley M. Tilghman LLD 2004 (hon.) 2017 former president of Princeton University
Theodore V. Wells, Jr. J.D. 1976, M.B.A. 1976 2013[8] partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP


  1. ^ "Massachusetts Constitution, Chapter V". 
  2. ^ "Governance Review Culminates in Changes to Harvard Corporation". Harvard Gazette. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University. 6 December 2010. Retrieved 6 December 2010. 
  3. ^ Rimer, Sara (12 February 2007). "A 'Rebellious Daughter' to Lead Harvard". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c "Three to join Harvard Corporation". Harvard Gazette. Harvard University. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  5. ^ "Breyer elected to Harvard Corporation". Harvard Gazette. Harvard University. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "Kenneth Chenault and Karen Gordon Mills to join Harvard Corporation". Harvard Gazette. Harvard University. 10 February 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  7. ^ "Finnegan elected to Corporation". Harvard Gazette. Harvard University. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "Mathews and Wells elected to Harvard Corporation". Harvard Gazette. Harvard University. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 

External links[edit]