Bacow Tells Alumni Search Remains in Preliminary Stage

Presidential search committee member Lawrence H. Bacow told a group of Latino alumni and student group leaders at a meeting Friday that the committee is still gathering input for the search and has not developed a list of candidates.

“At this point they’re in the data collection phase of it. They’re going to get to the point where they’re going to narrow down a list,” Shirley V. Cardona, president of the HBS Latino Alumni Association, said.

Cardona, who organized the meeting, said Bacow did not specify when the 15-member search committee expects to formally develop a list of candidates. Susan L. Graham ’64, a member of the search committee, said last month that the search remains in “information-gathering mode.”


Cardona, another member of the Harvard Business School Latino Alumni Association, and the co-presidents of the HBS Latino Student Organization attended Friday’s meeting, where they discussed Latino representation on the search committee and qualities they would like to see in Harvard’s 29th president.


In a letter to the search committee over the summer, Latino alumni groups raised concerns about the lack of Latino representation on the search committee, calling on committee members to prioritize candidates from underrepresented backgrounds with experience leading diverse teams. Senior Fellow of the Harvard Corporation William F. Lee ’72, who is leading the search committee, reached out to Cardona to arrange a meeting after receiving the letter.

“It went really well. [Bacow] was really forthcoming with insight on how they’ve gone about the process,” Cardona said of the discussion.

Bacow pointed to Latino members on the student, faculty, and staff advisory committees, according to Cardona, and he told meeting attendees Friday that the search committee will solicit input from a wide range of Harvard-affiliated constituencies—including alumni association members in many different U.S. cities.

“He went through this enormous list of constituencies that they’re meeting with, and even groups from other universities about how they approach the process,” she said.

Cardona said they did not discuss specific candidates, even though the groups had proposed a list of eight potential Latino contenders in their original letter.

“I was in full listening mode,” Bacow said as he left Loeb House, the Corporation’s traditional rendezvous spot, Friday morning. He declined to comment further on the search.

Cardona also met with Business School professor Youngme E. Moon, a member of the faculty committee advising the search, to discuss the qualities the next president should have in order to best promote diversity at Harvard.

“She asked me what would we consider the litmus test to ensure that whoever gets selected can take on these challenges. And for me it was really a track record of building diverse teams, and of bringing underrepresented voices to the table,” Cardona said.

She said Moon also voiced interest in the Latino groups’ proposals, including the idea of creating a Latino advisory group that would provide guidance to the next president.

After the meetings, Cardona said the groups “feel heard.” But she said they want to keep lines of communication to Massachusetts Hall open after the new president takes over.

“Our objective is to have an open line of communication with the president,” she said.

—Staff writer Claire E. Parker can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ClaireParkerDC.


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