May 04, 2012
Harvard Law School alumnus Richard A. Meserve ‘75, president of the Carnegie Institution for Science and former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, was elected president of Harvard’s Board of Overseers for the 2012-2013 academic year. Lucy Fisher, president of the independent film production company Red Wagon Entertainment will serve as vice-chair of the committee.
The Harvard Board of Overseers is the university’s second highest governing board. The board’s 30 members are elected by alumni and serve six-year terms.
“The Overseers bring essential experience and wisdom to the work of the University, and their perspectives assure that Harvard moves ahead with both ambition and care,” said President Drew Faust. “With Dick Meserve and Lucy Fisher, we’re once again fortunate to have two alumni leaders of remarkable accomplishment and strongly complementary backgrounds to guide the board forward during the coming year.”
Both Meserve and Fisher will be serving the final year of their six-year Overseer terms in 2012-13. They will assume their new roles following Commencement this spring, succeeding Leila Fawaz, A.M. ’72, Ph.D. ’79, the Issam M. Fares Professor of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Tufts University, and Robert N. Shapiro ’72, J.D. ’78, a partner in the Boston-based law firm of Ropes & Gray.
Meserve has been president of the Carnegie Institution for Science since 2003. Based in Washington, D.C., the institution is an internationally recognized scientific research organization with programs in developmental biology, plant biology, earth and planetary sciences, astronomy, and global ecology.
From 1999 to 2003, Meserve was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In that role, he served as the principal executive officer of the federal agency with responsibility for ensuring public health and safety in the operation of nuclear power plants and the usage of nuclear materials.
From 1984 to 1999, Meserve was a partner in the Washington-based law firm of Covington & Burling, with a practice focused on issues at the intersection of law, science, and public policy. He remains senior of counsel to the firm, which he joined as an associate in 1981.
After his undergraduate studies at Tufts University, Meserve received his J.D. degree from Harvard in 1975 and a Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford University in 1976. He clerked for Justice Benjamin Kaplan of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and for Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court before serving as legal counsel to President Jimmy Carter’s science and technology adviser.
Meserve is currently chairman of the International Nuclear Safety Group, chartered by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and of the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering. He has served on numerous legal and scientific committees, including many associated with the National Academies. Among other affiliations, he is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Physical Society.
Elected to join Harvard’s Board of Overseers in 2007, Meserve chairs the board’s standing committee on natural and applied sciences and serves on the executive committee and the committee on institutional policy. In addition, he serves on the governing boards’ joint committee on inspection, Harvard’s audit committee. Chair of the Overseers’ visiting committee to the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, he is a member of the visiting committee to the Kennedy School of Government and in 2008 chaired the external review of the Harvard University Center for the Environment.
Drawing on the diverse experience of its members, the Harvard Board of Overseers exerts broad influence over Harvard’s strategic directions, provides counsel to the University’s leadership on priorities and plans, has the power of consent to certain actions of the Corporation, and directs the visitation process by which various Harvard Schools and departments are periodically reviewed and assessed.