Vivian Hunt appointed president of Harvard Board of Overseers as university searches for a new president

BY Preta Peace Namasaba May 13, 2024 10:36 AM EDT

As Harvard University continues its quest for a new president, Vivian Y. Hunt has been named the president of the board of overseers for the 2024-2025 academic year. The appointment comes after the board and Harvard Corporation, the school’s highest governing body, met on campus for their regularly scheduled meeting. The Board is made up of the institution’s alumni who contribute to its “overarching academic mission and long-term institutional interests.”

“I am both honored and humbled to be asked to serve as the president of the Board of Overseers for the upcoming academic year. I also fully appreciate the challenges and opportunities facing the University in the years ahead. Tyler Jacks and I hope to work closely with Interim President Garber and all of our stakeholders to support excellence, inclusion, and world-class leadership in all that we do. We appreciate the trust of our community — students, faculty, staff, alumni, research partners, and our colleagues on the governing boards — and will do all we can to serve in a constructive and collaborative way,” Hunt expressed her commitment to Harvard in a statement.

Hunt’s appointment brings Harvard closer to announcing the committee appointed to select its new president. Her appointment holds strategic significance as she will serve on the university’s presidential search committee. Historically, the president of the overseers has been pivotal in past presidential searches, including the selection of former president Claudine Gay in 2022. However, the Ivy League institution has not indicated any rush to announce the search committee.

With many outsider candidates failing to meet the threshold for ballot eligibility, the board has faced rising scrutiny over its election process in recent months. Hunt is in a uniquely consequential position as Harvard’s leadership crisis remains in the spotlight. Former president Claudine Gay resigned in January 2024 amidst allegations of plagiarism and campus antisemitism. In her resignation announcement, she cited racially motivated attacks on her character and academic morality as the reason behind her resignation.

Hunt has served as a Harvard Overseer since 2019. She currently serves as the chief innovation officer at UnitedHealth Group. She leads dynamic teams in driving innovation, technology development, strategic growth, and process development at a Fortune 500 company. Before that, she served as a senior partner at McKinsey & Company, advising a broad range of organizations. In 2018, she was named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for contributions to the economy and women in business.

Hunt earned her undergraduate from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She will serve alongside Tyler Jacks, the founding director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT who assumes the role of board vice chair.

“Vivian Hunt and Tyler Jacks are both exceptionally accomplished alumni and leaders. Vivian is an eminent management consultant with deep expertise in organizational leadership, a broad international outlook, and extensive involvement with health care and the life sciences. Tyler is an outstanding cancer biologist with experience as an institute director, a strong commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration, and a dedication to translating basic research into effective therapies. Their complementary talents and experiences are sure to serve the University well in the year ahead,” said interim President Alan Garber.