Katherine Lapp Named Executive Vice President

University of California EVP succeeds Edward C. Forst '82.

Katherine N. Lapp

Katherine N. Lapp has been appointed Harvard's executive vice president effective in early October, President Drew Faust announced today. Lapp, who has been executive vice president for business operations for the University of California since 2007, succeeds Edward C. Forst '82, the first person to hold the position; Forst joined the administration last September, but departed August 1, a seemingly sudden decision that was announced shortly before Commencement.

According to the announcement, Lapp will be Harvard's chief administrative officer, overseeing the financial, administrative, human resources, and capital planning functions of the central administration, as well as administrative aspects of information technology; like Forst, she will serve as an ex officio member of the board of the Harvard Management Company, which manages the endowment.

Before assuming her UC role, Lapp was involved in city and state government in New York, where she worked in the criminal-justice system; from 2002 to 2007, she was executive director and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. AT UC, according to the announcement, she was chief budget officer and provided administrative oversight of finances, human resources, real estate and facilities management, and information resources. She has overseen the issuance of bonds and debt-service strategies for all university locations, and the implementation of campus-based capital projects and the development of capital plans to ensure compliance with system-wide budget and finance approvals. Recently, in the wake of California's severe fiscal problems, she has directed the effort to reduce the UC system-wide budget by $800 million.

The executive vice president position was created as a sort of chief operating officer post within the central administration. Forst, who had previously served at the top ranks of Goldman Sachs, arrived just as the national financial crisis reached its crescendo. He was deeply involved in shaping Harvard's response, as the decline in the endowment's value and the University's need to enhance its liquidity and financial flexibility resulted in the decision last December to refinance $1 billion in existing short-term and variable-rate debt, and to borrow an additional $1.5 billion in additional funds as well (and see this related earlier report on the financing proper).

In the meantime, long-time vice president for administration Sally Zeckhauser retired, effective last June 30. Some of the units that reported to her (Harvard University Press, the Arnold Arboretum) now report to other senior academic officers. But the large service-oriented staffs (dining, building operations and maintenance, and so on) await a new reporting role. (In the interim, they are reporting to acting vice president for administration Thomas Vautin, a long-time senior manager of facilities and environmental services.) That raised the question of whether the successor executive vice president would be principally someone with financial (as well as operations) expertise, like Forst, or a more purely administrative leader.

In the statement, Faust said, "Katie Lapp brings extraordinary management experience and an impressive breadth of accomplishment to this role. She has extensive expertise in budget and finance, exceptionally strong credentials as a leader and reformer of systems and operations, and demonstrated success in the higher-education environment."

 

 

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