1636 Forum :: 2024 Overseer Endorsements

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Over the last several weeks, we have been working to sort out who to vote for in the 2024 Overseers election. We corresponded with all candidates and spoke live with 7 out of 8. We also reviewed submissions they made to us as well as to The Crimson, Harvard Magazine, Coalition for a Diverse Harvard, Harvard Alumni for Free Speech and FAIR Harvard Alumni+.

Following our vetting process, we believe three candidates can make meaningful progress getting Harvard back on track – focusing on academic excellence and depoliticizing the University.

We recommend voting for Tim Ritchie, Theodore Chuang, and Scott Mead (in ballot order).

Below, we’ve outlined why we think each candidate we’ve endorsed stands out. And instructions on how to vote for them in the election, which runs April 1 to May 14.

No one is perfect. In an attempt to be as transparent as possible, below we outline both why we endorse these three candidates, as well as some of the areas we hope their positions will evolve.  

Throughout this process, it was clear to us that all of the candidates running share our commitment to Harvard’s success. We are open to working with all members of the future Board of Overseers where we can find overlapping interests. Harvard matters to all of us.


Tim S. Ritchie (MPA ‘98)

Why we’re recommending Tim: Tim has a deep commitment to 1636 Forum’s values and stands out for his nuanced thinking on all topics. He especially differentiated himself on matters of institutional neutrality and free speech, where he recognizes the important difference between speech content and conduct. Tim prioritizes academic excellence and Veritas as guiding principles for Harvard. On the whole, we believe he is a capable leader who will build consensus on the difficult issues that matter to 1636 Forum members. Tim was also endorsed by The Crimson and Harvard Alumni for Free Speech.

What we’d like to see change: Tim is not 100% aligned with our value of putting academic excellence first. The issue of legacy admissions is complicated, but his comments to the Crimson on the topic left something to be desired. The Crimson: “So imagine if you have children, they will have been in your home thinking about what Harvard meant to you, they will have a sense of what Harvard was about, and that is a positive thing to bring to campus.”

Theodore (“Theo”) D. Chuang (AB ‘91, JD ‘94)

Why we’re recommending Theo: Theo demonstrated a strong commitment to viewpoint diversity and to focusing Harvard on its educational mission. When The Crimson inquired about institutional neutrality, he articulated an inclination to shift Harvard’s mission away from political pursuits: “for public policy and even foreign policy issues that aren’t connected to that educational mission, I do believe that there needs to be more restraint than we’ve seen so far.” Theo was also endorsed by The Crimson and Harvard Alumni for Free Speech.

What we’d like to see change: While Theo has indicated he would support depoliticizing Harvard, he admitted to The Crimson that he is still new to the issue of institutional neutrality. He was similarly hesitant to comment on many topics as in depth as other candidates, which he attributed to a desire to hear from more stakeholders. While this gave us somewhat less to work with to decide on an endorsement, we were ultimately impressed with how he reasoned through difficult issues and we believe in his general alignment with the 1636 Forum’s values.

Scott Mead (AB ‘77)

Why we’re recommending Scott: Scott demonstrated a commitment to diversity of all kinds, including a strong commitment to viewpoint diversity. Since Scott already serves as an Overseer, he understands the intricacies of how Harvard academic departments operate and will be able to drive important changes we want to see immediately once elected. Scott was also endorsed by The Crimson and Harvard Alumni for Free Speech.

What we’d like to see change: Scott is quoted as saying, “I have long supported affirmative action and race-conscious admissions,” and did not express clear support for indicators of academic excellence like SAT scores as the priority in admissions criteria. This is not aligned with our position on putting academic excellence first. Further, we would appreciate a more rigorous framework for exceptions to institutional neutrality than what Scott told The Crimson: “It’s hard to say what, if anything might be an exception but matters directly impacting Harvard could be considered, or, for example, if Putin used a nuclear weapon.”

In addition to the above candidates, the 1636 Forum found that Ming Min Hui (MBA ‘15) demonstrated promise in her published remarks and in our first conversation with her, but she was unavailable for an important follow-up conversation until after this publication. Ming was also endorsed by The Crimson.

For additional information on all candidates, The Crimson has published an excellent voter guide alongside its endorsements.

Voting Instructions

1. Go to https://vote.escvote.com/harvard/

2. Enter your school of graduation, two-digit class year, personal Election Validation Number, which can be found in an email you received from [email protected], and click Login

3. Click through the pages with candidate biographies

4. Select the candidates you want to support. NB: we do not advocate writing in Overseer candidates beyond those mentioned above.

5. Click “Submit” to finalized your vote

Ballots must be received by 5pm ET on May 14, 2024. If you prefer to vote by paper ballot, use the materials recently mailed to the address HAA has on file for you. For more help, contact the Election Services Co. (ESC) help desk at [email protected] or by calling 1-866-720-4357 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm ET).

As part of the 1636 Forum, we send a weekly easy-to-digest newsletter of things you might want to be aware of at Harvard that relate to refocusing the university on academic excellence, improving governance, academic free speech, and student safety. We appreciate any and all feedback & if you have links / blurbs you think we should include in next week's edition, please let us know.

The 1636 Forum Team