Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Changing Things Up Since 1650 in the Harvard Corporation

By Catherine Ku '14

The Harvard Corporation, the governing body of the Cambridge school, has added term limits and additional members in the first major reform since its founding in 1650. The changes come in response to faculty and alumni accusations of a lack of communication between the corporation and the Harvard community.According to a report of the Governance Review Committee, the body will increase the number of members from seven to 13 and institute a term limit of six years with a maximum six-year extension. Numerous committees will also be formed from the corporation to expand the “breadth and depth” of particular issues.

While Harvard’s corporation will remain the smallest of that of its peer institutions, the changes will make the it more similar to the other governing bodies.

By comparison, Princeton’s Board of Trustees numbers anywhere from 23 to 40 members with three categories of trustees. The Board elects Charter Trustees and Term Trustees to terms of 10 and four years, respectively while alumni elect 13 Alumni Trustees to four-year terms. A member of the senior class and a Graduate School alumnus are also included on the Board.

The Harvard Corporation’s division into committees reflects Princeton’s current structure. Currently, the Board divides into ten subcommittees, which address issues ranging from student life to university resources. Additional committees are created when the need arises.

Harvard hopes the new changes will lead to increased transparency and flow of ideas between the governing body and the University.

“The fact is that all parts of the University have been asked to look themselves in the mirror, reassess how they might do their job to the optimal degree, and it’s only natural that we should do the same thing,” Corporation senior fellow Robert D. Reischauer said.