(Daily Caller News Foundation) – Harvard University’s highest governing board is filled with Democratic operatives and donors.
The Harvard Corporation is a 12-member board that is responsible for the university’s “academic, financial, and physical resources and overall well-being,” and candidates are determined by existing colleagues and voted on by the Board of Overseers, according to The Harvard Crimson. Many current members of the board have a history of being involved in Democratic politics, with several serving in past administrations or donating thousands of dollars to campaigns and causes.
Penny Pritzker, the leader of the Harvard Corporation, worked in the Obama administration as secretary of commerce from 2013 to 2017 and is a board member of the Obama Foundation, according to its website. Karen Gordon Mills also served in the Obama administration as the administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2009 to 2013, according to The Harvard Gazette.
Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar served on the California Supreme Court from 2015 to 2021 and was nominated by former Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. He previously worked in the Obama administration on the White House Domestic Policy Council’s teams for civil and criminal justice, public health, and immigration and co-chaired the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission, among other things.
Several other members of the board have made large donations to Democratic causes and campaigns, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings.
Kenneth Chenault has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic races across the country between 1989 and 2023, according to FEC filings. Chenault donated more than $100,000 to the Biden Victory Fund in September 2023 and over $20,000 to the Obama campaign in 2008.
Timothy Barakett, the treasurer of the Corporation, donated $10,000 to the Democratic State Central Committee of Maryland in September 2022, and his other two listed donations are to other Democratic causes, according to FEC filings.
Tracy Pun Palandjian donated to several Democratic politicians, including $1,000 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008, according to FEC filings. Diana Nelson donated more than $25,000 to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Paul Finnegan donated $100,000 to Mainstream Democrats PAC in June 2023 and $5,800 to Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in April 2022, the records show. Theodore Wells donated $2,000 to Obama for his 2003 Senatorial campaign.
Carolyn Martin donated dozens of times to ActBlue, a Democratic political action committee, and donated to Biden in 2020, according to FEC filings. Shirley Tilghman also donated to several Democrats between 1999 and 2020.
The Corporation defended former Harvard President Claudine Gay following several plagiarism allegations and after her appearance at a congressional hearing where she refused to say whether calling for the genocide of Jews violated the university’s code of conduct.
“The lack of viewpoint diversity in the Harvard Corporation may be fundamental to its mistaken hiring and mistakenly slow removal of President Gay. While the Corporation may reflect Harvard’s current orthodoxies, it appears not to adequately account for the ideologically diverse democracy in which Harvard functions,” Adam Kissel, visiting fellow on higher education reform at the Heritage Foundation, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Several Harvard donors called on Pritzker and other members of the Corporation to step down following Gay’s resignation, according to the New York Post. Pritzker will not be stepping down, a spokesperson for the university told The Harvard Crimson.
“The Board Chair, Penny Pritzker, should resign along with the other members of the board who led the campaign to keep Claudine Gay, orchestrated the strategy to threaten the media, bypassed the process for evaluating plagiarism, and otherwise greatly contributed to the damage that has been done,” billionaire Bill Ackman said in a Jan. 3 statement.
Harvard, Chenault, Cuellar, Martin, Palandjian, Tilghman and Wells did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment. Pritzker, Barakett, Nelson, Finnegan, Wells and Mills could not immediately reached by the DCNF.