Eligible voters in the 2020 Overseers election include all Harvard degree holders whose degrees were received by January 1, 2020, except for members of the Harvard Corporation and officers of government or instruction in the University. Eligible voters in the 2020 HAA Elected Directors election include all Harvard degree holders whose degrees were received by January 1, 2020.
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; completed ballots 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.
The Harvard Alumni Association Committee to Nominate Overseers and Elected Directors (HAA Nominating Committee) is responsible for developing and presenting nominees both for the Harvard Board of Overseers and for Elected Directors of the HAA. The HAA Nominating Committee's voting members include three current or recent Overseers and up to ten alumni of varied backgrounds and experience chosen by the HAA Executive Committee.
The HAA Nominating Committee deliberates over the course of the fall to develop the slates of candidates. In fall 2019, the committee reviewed approximately 300 individuals for possible inclusion on the Overseers ballot and approximately 200 for possible inclusion on the HAA Elected Director ballot.
From its deliberations, the HAA Nominating Committee has presented eight candidates for the five anticipated vacancies on the Board of Overseers and nine candidates for the six available positions as HAA Elected Director. (The committee is responsible for nominating one and one-half times the number of vacancies which, at the time of nomination, it is anticipated will be required to be filled.) Candidates for Overseer may also be nominated by petition, by obtaining a prescribed number of signatures from eligible voters (in the amount of at least one percent of the number of eligible voters in the prior year's election) by a specified date (this year, February 1, 2020).
By rule, the ballot materials separately identify the candidates nominated by the HAA nominating committee and any nominated by petition. The order of candidates within each category is determined by lot.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you did not receive the email invitation to vote electronically, you can use the unique election validation number (EVN) on your paper ballot and the ballot site address (provided on the buck slip included within) to go online and vote.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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).