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The Editorial Board’s Endorsements in the 2024 Board of Overseers

A Guide to the 2024 Board of Overseers Election

Amid the chaos of the past six months — protests, hearings, lawsuits, resignations, subpoenas — millions have wondered: What next for Harvard?

As voting for this year’s Board of Overseers elections opens today, alumni will have the opportunity to help answer, deciding which of the eight candidates will receive one of five open seats — and, in turn, how Harvard will proceed at this critical point in its 400-year history.

To inform alumni voters, The Crimson Editorial Board interviewed seven of the eight candidates for their perspective on the most pressing questions Harvard faces today. (Due to scheduling difficulties, Nworah B. Ayogu ’10 could not interview with the Editorial Board in time for the publication of this package.)

On the basis of these interviews, we held a ranked-choice vote to determine the strength of our collective support for the candidates. While the seventeen members of the Editorial Board who voted did so for their own reasons, in general, we valued the knowledge and ability displayed by the candidates’ responses most. As a secondary matter, we considered how their positions accorded with our own.

This special package of opinion coverage contains both our evaluations of the candidates and the edited transcripts of our interviews with them. It is our earnest attempt to inform alumni voters and shape the trajectory of University governance for the better.

—Tommy Barone ’25 and Jacob M. Miller ’25, Crimson Editorial Chairs

Click on a candidate’s photo in the carousel below to read their interview with The Crimson Editorial Board. Candidates are listed in order of support.

Harvard’s corporate governance has found itself in an unfamiliar place, lately: the spotlight.

In recent weeks, the notoriously-opaque Harvard Corporation has come under fire for its failure to better navigate the crises of the past six months. These criticisms have revolved as much around the Corporation’s silence and intransparency as its actions — in no small part because many of those actions remain secret.

Against this backdrop, this year’s election for the Board of Overseers, for which voting opened today, takes on a significance unseen in years. As the Corporation continues to be assailed for its secrecy, and as Harvard prepares to chart its course out of this historic crisis, the Board of Overseers — the less powerful but more democratic of Harvard’s two governing boards — provides more direct, accountable, and public-facing representation in University decisions.

The four candidates who received our strong endorsement were Tim S. Ritchie, Theodore D. Chuang ’91, Scott Mead ’77, and Ming Min Hui.

Among the Harvard Alumni Association’s eight candidates, some stood out as uniquely competent, thoughtful, and well-informed on the issues facing Harvard and higher education. The four candidates who received our strong endorsement were Tim S. Ritchie, Theodore D. Chuang ’91, Scott Mead ’77, and Ming Min Hui. Danielle A. Feinberg ’96 edged out Modupe N. Akinola ’96 for the fifth spot.

The following graphic visualizes the ranked-choice votes of the Editorial Board for each of the seven candidates. The width of each bar is determined by points that vary with the rank of each vote. (A first-place rank is worth eight points, a second-place rank is worth seven points, and so on.)

This is a scrolling display.

The following are the Editorial Board’s evaluations of each of the seven candidates we interviewed:

Tim S. Ritchie

We were quite impressed with Ritchie, who came across as direct, honest, thoughtful, and earnestly invested in understanding — and improving — the current state of Harvard. On the Board of Overseers nomination and election process, for example, Ritchie demonstrated notable candor. Regarding institutional neutrality, he outlined a nuanced and thoughtful position. The Board was disappointed by Ritchie’s support of legacy admissions, but it did not overshadow positions that demonstrated nuance, knowledge, and moral decency.

Theodore D. Chuang ’91

The Board felt that Chuang offered succinct, measured responses and exuded a sense of composure befitting his position as a federal judge. From advocating for institutional restraint on social and political issues to emphasizing the role that the Overseers can play in addressing cultural problems of hate and intolerance, his structured responses inspired confidence that he would approach the job with the seriousness it deserves.

Scott Mead ’77

Mead, a photographer and investor, stood out due to his experience — he currently serves in an interim post on the Board of Overseers — and close familiarity with the most important issues facing Harvard. From his knowledge of the nuances of institutional neutrality to his discussion of the need to preserve world-class regional studies programming while establishing an Ethnic Studies department, Mead’s thoughtfulness was apparent. Also encouraging was his repeated advocacy for Harvard to engage more readily with the public and defend itself against recent attacks.

Ming Min Hui

The Board was struck by the composed and direct answers from Hui, the executive director of Boston Ballet. We were left duly impressed by her well-reasoned analysis of the complexities of divestment within a framework of institutional neutrality and the need for a culture of trust and empathy in the face of hate on campus. When she didn’t feel familiar enough with issues like the highly-secretive presidential search process to offer a detailed perspective, Hui had the humility to admit the limits of her knowledge, leaving us confident that she would bring the same honesty to the Board of Overseers.

Danielle A. Feinberg ’96

Feinberg, a Pixar cinematographer, impressed us with her sharp criticism of admissions preferences for legacies and the children of donors and her strong advocacy for revoking tenure from those who betray Harvard’s trust by engaging in misconduct. However, we would have liked to hear deeper discussion of a few key issues facing the University, including in which contexts the University should release public statements on social or political issues. Still, her values, honesty, and unique professional background earned her our support.

Modupe N. Akinola ’96

Akinola, a Columbia University Business School professor, impressed us with several of her answers — particularly those on admissions preferences for legacies and the children of donors, tenure, and the nuances of institutional neutrality. Her experience in higher education, as well as serving as board president for the Brearley School in New York, would prepare her well to serve on the Board of Overseers. However, because we found her responses on some issues less substantive than we would have liked, Feinberg just edged her out for our endorsement.

Juan A. Sepúlveda ’85

Sepúlveda boasts a strong resumé to support his campaign for the Board of Overseers: The former Rhodes Scholar now works as a political science professor and special advisor for “inclusive excellence” at Trinity University in San Antonio. In our conversation with him, however, we were disappointed by answers that we found noncommittal and vague regarding the issues we see as most pressing in this year’s election, including institutional neutrality, campus culture, and the limits of tenure. In a time of such turmoil, we hope for more decisiveness from those who hope to join the Board of Overseers.

Only Editorial Board members who attended all seven candidate interviews were permitted to vote.

Voting Editorial editors: Allison P. Farrell ’26, E. Matteo Diaz ’27, Hea Pushpraj 25, Henry P. Moss IV ’26, Ian D. Svetkey ’25, Jacob M. Miller 25, Jasmine N. Wynn ’27, Julia S. Dan ’26, Julien Berman ’26, Lorenzo Z. Ruiz ’27, M. Aaron Bradford III ’25, Matthew R. Tobin ’27, Max A. Palys ’26, McKenna E. McKrell ’26, Saul I.M. Arnow ’26, Tommy Barone ’25, and Violet T.M. Barron ’26

Photography: Addison Y. Liu ’25 and Frank S. Zhou ’26

Portraits: Sami E. Turner ’25

Web Design: Alexander D. Cai ’25, Dennis E. Eum ’26, Neil H. Shah ’26, and Victoria A. Kauffman ’26.