FAQs

01. Who is eligible to vote for Harvard Overseers and Elected Directors of the Harvard Alumni Association?

This coming year, all holders of Harvard degrees (including honorary), whose degree was received by January 1, 2020 and who is not a member of the Harvard Corporation or an officer of government or instruction in the University, are entitled to vote for Overseer. All degree-holding alumni, whose degree was recieved by January 1, 2010, are eligible to vote for Elected Directors of the Harvard Alumni Association.

02. When does the election take place?

The online voting website will be available from Wednesday, April 1, through 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, May 19. Paper ballots are mailed by April 1 and must be received by 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. Results will be announced at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association, which takes place on the afternoon of Commencement Day, May 28, 2020.

03. How are candidates nominated?

A committee of the Harvard Alumni Association is responsible for developing the slates of nominees for both elections. The nominating committee’s voting members include three current or recent Overseers and up to nine alumni of varied background and experience chosen by the leadership of the HAA. The committee meets several times during the course of the fall to develop a slate of candidates. This year the committee selected a slate of nine candidates for Overseer and nine for Elected Director.

A prospective candidate for Overseer may also qualify for the ballot by petition. For a prospective petition candidate to qualify, a requisite number of eligible voters must submit signed forms in support of the prospective candidate’s appearance on the ballot. For more information on the petition process, please see here. The deadline for all petitions is February 1.

05. Who currently serves on the Board of Overseers?

The Board comprises 30 Overseers elected by Harvard alumni, together with the president and treasurer of the University, who serve ex officio. Typically, five Overseers are elected each spring to serve six-year terms that begin at Commencement.

The Overseers bring a broad range of experience and perspectives to bear on the work of the University. The class elected in 2018, for instance, includes:

  • the president of a nonprofit devoted to neurological research and care in rural Asia
  • a retired vice admiral of the United States Navy
  • the executive of the Boston Ballet
  • a lawyer with expertise in corporate finance, securities, and governance
  • the director of the National Congress of American Indians’ policy research center.

A full list of the present members of the Board of Overseers appears here:
https://harvard.edu/board-overseers

06. What is the role of the Overseers?

The Board of Overseers is one of Harvard’s two governing boards, the other being the President and Fellows, also known as the Corporation. Drawing on the diverse experience and expertise of its members, the Board of Overseers exerts broad influence over the University’s strategic directions, provides essential counsel to the University’s leadership on priorities and plans, has the power of consent to certain actions such as the election of Corporation members.

The Board also directs the visitation process by which a broad array of Harvard Schools and departments are periodically reviewed. The more than 50 visiting committees (on which Overseers serve with others) play a principal role in assessing the quality of Harvard’s programs and assuring that the University remains true to its charter as a place of learning.

The Board as a whole typically meets five times during the academic year. Its plenary sessions commonly focus on a broad topic that is prominent on the University agenda—such as the effort to enhance undergraduate education; the pursuit of interfaculty academic collaboration; or emerging initiatives in the sciences, the arts, or international studies. Plenary sessions also commonly include reports from the Board’s several standing committees (which cover both academic and administrative domains) as well as a discussion with the president of the University about key issues and challenges. Here the Overseers may have their greatest effect, bringing to bear their special expertise, wise judgment, and deep interest in Harvard.

07. What is the role of the Elected Directors of the Harvard Alumni Association?

The HAA Board of Directors empowers volunteers to strengthen the Harvard alumni community. Eighteen directors are elected by the alumni as their “at-large” representatives. Other directors are appointed to represent a specific region, class or alumni organization. Elected Directors provide leadership for the HAA and its various committees, a capacity often demonstrated by a record of service to Harvard and an ability to communicate widely and effectively with other alumni.

08. What is the deadline for voting?

To be counted, online voting must be completed by 5:00 p.m. (EDT), May 21, 2019, and paper ballots must be received by 5:00 p.m. (EDT), May 21, 2019.

10. What if I lose my ballot or do not receive one?

You can call the Election Services Co. (ESC) help desk toll-free at 1-866-720-4357 to request a replacement ballot. You can also email the help desk at harvard@electionservicescorp.com. Please include your name, mailing address, degree, and graduation year. You may also vote online either through the email invitation or with the unique election validation number (EVN) on your paper ballot and the ballot site address (provided on the buck slip included within).