The Harvard Corporation — formally known as the President and Fellows of Harvard College — consists of 13 members (one position is currently unfilled), is responsible for the hiring of the university president and is the arbiter of major policy decisions. Members, who meet several times a year, are not paid for their role.
The board, the smaller and more powerful of two governing boards at Harvard, dates back to 1650, making it the oldest corporation in the Western Hemisphere, according to the university. For generations, the corporation was made up of only the university president and six others, but it expanded in 2010 to 13 members amid calls for clearer communication with the broader Harvard community, according to the school’s Office of the Governing Boards.
Here’s what to know about the board’s current members.
Timothy R. Barakett
Timothy R. Barakett is the university’s treasurer and a donor. He founded the now-fallen hedge fund, Atticus Capital, which he led as chairman and chief executive for 15 years. Mr. Barakett has also worked in philanthropy.
Kenneth I. Chenault
Kenneth I. Chenault is the chairman and a managing director for General Catalyst, a venture capital firm. Previously he served as chairman and chief executive of American Express Company. Mr. Chenault has served on the boards of many influential corporations, including I.B.M. and Procter & Gamble. He is also a board member of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Mariano-Florentino (Tino) Cuéllar
Mariano-Florentino (Tino) Cuéllar is a former justice of the Supreme Court of California. Mr. Cuéllar worked in the White House for the Clinton and Obama administrations and served as co-chair of the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission and of the Immigration Policy Working Group for the Obama-Biden Transition Project. He was also the special assistant to the president for justice and regulatory policy during President Barack Obama’s first term. For two decades, he was a Stanford University faculty member.
Paul J. Finnegan
Paul J. Finnegan is the former treasurer for Harvard, a former member of the Harvard Board of Overseers and a previous president of the Harvard Alumni Association. Mr. Finnegan is the chairman of the Chicago-based private-equity investment firm Madison Dearborn Partners, which he helped found in the 1990s. He is a current member and former chairman of the Chicago regional advisory board of Teach for America and is the former treasurer of the organization’s national board of trustees.
Dr. Gay became Harvard’s president in July, and simultaneously serves as a member of the board. She is Harvard’s first Black president and the second woman to hold the position. Dr. Gay received an undergraduate degree in economics from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in government from Harvard. Read more about Dr. Gay here.
Biddy Martin is a German studies scholar. Ms. Martin was the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the longest-serving provost at Cornell University, where she led initiatives for financial aid and the humanities. She also served as the 19th president of Amherst College.
Karen Gordon Mills
Karen Gordon Mills served as the administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration under Mr. Obama for more than four years. She was also a member of the National Economic Council.
Diana L. Nelson
Diana L. Nelson is another former member of the Harvard Board of Overseers. Ms. Nelson has been heavily involved in alumni efforts — she was co-chair on the Harvard College Fund and a Faculty of Arts and Sciences task force for undergraduate students. She has had her hand in the nonprofit sector, holding leadership positions in organizations geared toward children and the arts. She was recognized by Queen Silvia of Sweden in 2007 for her work to help exploited children.
Tracy Pun Palandjian
Tracy Pun Palandjian is the chief executive and co-founder of Social Finance, a nonprofit investing in areas such as housing and education for low-income and historically marginalized populations. She is a board member for the Boston Foundation, one of the country’s oldest community foundations. Ms. Palandjian is a former member of the Board of Overseers, where she was the vice chair of the executive committee and chair of the schools committee and visitation subcommittee. Ms. Palandjian’s family is also a major donor to the University.
Penny Pritzker is the lead member of the Harvard Corporation. A billionaire businesswoman, an heir of the Hyatt hotel fortune and the sister of J.B. Pritzker, the governor of Illinois, Ms. Pritzker was an early backer of Mr. Obama’s candidacy for president and later served as U.S. secretary of commerce in his administration.
Shirley M. Tilghman
Shirley M. Tilghman is the former president of Princeton University, known for her work in molecular biology. Ms. Tilghman also chaired the review of life sciences at Harvard before her time on the board.
Theodore V. Wells Jr.
Theodore V. Wells Jr. is a trial lawyer and co-chair of the litigation department of the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Mr. Wells was a chairman of the board of directors for the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and in 2011, he won the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award.
Rob Copeland, Maureen Farrell and Sarah Mervosh contributed reporting.