Harvard upstarts fall short in Board of Overseers vote
By Evan Lips | May 23, 2016, 19:45 EDT
CAMBRIDGE – Five candidates for Harvard University’s Board of Overseers who campaigned on a platform calling for free tuition and making admissions more transparent have come up short.
On Monday, Harvard announced the five winning candidates who emerged from a field of 13. The new members include the president of CVS Health’s pharmacy unit and a federal judge in Washington.
Graduates of the university, including Harvard College and the graduate schools, cast 35,870 ballots. Membership on the board, an influential panel tasked with helping to set the university’s overall strategy, is limited to one six-year term.
All of those elected were among eight nominated by the university’s alumni association, while the five candidates who sought free tuition were nominated by certificates submitted by alumni. Earlier this month, three of the latter five added another issue to their platform – freedom of association.
That issue gained prominence after university administrators declared that students who join single-sex social clubs, all of them located off campus and unaffiliated with the school, would be barred from student leadership posts and blocked from applying for some prestigious post-graduate fellowships. The three upstart candidates who focused on the association issue were Stuart Taylor, a scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington and a former legal affairs reporter for the New York Times, conservative California businessman Ron Unz and Lee C. Cheng, chief legal officer at Newegg in Whittier, California.
Others on the outsider slate were consumer advocate Ralph Nader, a former Green Party presidential candidate, and Stephen Hsu, a Michigan State University physics professor. Nader and Hsu at the time of the election were still contemplating whether to back the added position regarding social clubs.
Calling themselves “Free Harvard, Fair Harvard,” the five candidates argued that Harvard’s $37.6 billion endowment meant it could afford to eliminate tuition, positing that the move would also result in bigger donations to the school from future alumni. The group also sought to force the university to disclose whether or not it was discriminating against qualified Asian-Americans in admissions.
The quest to determine whether Harvard unfairly discriminates in admissions is currently playing out in a federal lawsuit.
Earlier Monday, another Asian-American group targeted three other Ivy League institutions – Brown University, Dartmouth College and Yale University – with a similar lawsuit alleging unfair practices.