FAQs

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 on the day after Commencement.  This year’s newly elected Overseers will be seated later in light of the rescheduled election.

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 founding president of a nonprofit devoted to neurological research and care in rural Asia
  • a retired vice admiral of the United States Navy
  • the executive director of the Boston Ballet
  • a lawyer with expertise in corporate governance who served as Harvard Alumni Association President
  • 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, along with the President and Fellows, also known as the Corporation. Formally established in 1642, the Board plays an integral role in the governance of the University. As a central part of its work, the Board directs the visitation process, the primary means for periodic external assessment of Harvard’s schools and departments. Through its array of standing committees, and the roughly fifty visiting committees that report to them, the Board probes the quality of Harvard’s programs and assures that the University remains true to its charter as a place of learning. More generally, drawing on its members’ diverse experience and expertise, the Board provides counsel to the University’s leadership on priorities, plans, and strategic initiatives.

The Board typically gathers five times a year for plenary and committee meetings, in addition to the time Overseers devote to other Harvard service. The plenary sessions commonly focus on a topic prominent on the University’s agenda—in areas such as innovations in teaching and learning, research initiatives throughout the arts and sciences and the professions, and efforts to enhance connections across the University’s schools and to amplify Harvard programs’ beneficial impact on the wider world. Plenary sessions typically include reports from standing committees and a discussion with the President of the University about key issues and challenges. The Board also has the power of consent to certain actions such as the election of Corporation members.

In all their activities, the Overseers bring to bear their best judgment and their deep commitment to Harvard’s overarching academic mission and long-term institutional interests.

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.

09. 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 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm ET) 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).

10. Can you expedite a replacement ballot so that my vote is received on time?

If you are concerned that your paper ballot may not be received on time, you are encouraged to vote online.  You may 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).  ESC will make best efforts to accommodate any special requests for replacement paper ballots.