James R. Houghton to Retire from Harvard Corporation

A shift at the top of Harvard's governance structure

James R. Houghton

James R. Houghton '58, M.B.A. '62, senior fellow of the President and Fellows of Harvard College (the formal name for the Harvard Corporation, the University's senior, seven-person governing board), announced today that he would step down at the end of the academic year, concluding 15 years of service. He will be succeeded as senior fellow by Robert D. Reischauer '63, president of the Urban Institute, in Washington, D.C., who joined the Corporation in 2002, having previously served for six years as a member of the Board of Overseers, an elected position. That gives him some relative seniority compared to Robert E. Rubin '60, the former Goldman Sachs and Citigroup executive and Secretary of the Treasury, who also joined the Corporation in 2002, but who did not previously serve as an Overseer.

The text of the University news announcement follows:

James R. Houghton, the longest-serving  member of the Harvard Corporation and chair of the University’s 2006-07 presidential search, today announced his plans to step down at the end of the  2009-10 academic year, after 15 years on the Corporation.

Houghton confirmed his plans to his Corporation colleagues at their meeting on December 7, and said he wished to announce his intentions before year end so a search can begin promptly in the new  year.

“It’s been a true honor to have been able  to serve Harvard over the years,” said Houghton, chairman emeritus of Corning Incorporated. “I believe  that today, under the leadership of our distinguished president and with support from our other constituencies, the future of our ‘fair Harvard’ is  bright indeed. I’ve been around Harvard for more than 50 years, through challenge and change, and the wealth of talent in our community never ceases  to amaze me. I have every confidence that Harvard will continue to demonstrate the unique capacity of great universities to educate students and  generate new ideas in ways that change the world.”

“Jamie Houghton has served Harvard with  extraordinary devotion and a profound concern for the well-being of the University and its people,” said President Drew Faust. “He has seen Harvard through times of change with a steady hand and a constant commitment to the best interests of the University — above all, the quality of our students’ educational experience and the capacity of our faculty to shape the course of  knowledge. Throughout his tenure on the Corporation, he has dedicated his time and care to helping knit the parts of Harvard more closely together and to helping realize the promise of collaborative ventures from the sciences  to the arts and across the professions. I’m one of many people at Harvard who have benefited from his thoughtful counsel and common sense, and who have come to value his friendship and generosity of spirit. We owe him our deep gratitude for his years of selfless service to Harvard, and for what I’m sure will be continuing active engagement in the life of the University.”

A  1958 graduate of Harvard College and 1962 graduate of Harvard Business School, Houghton joined the Harvard Corporation in 1995 and became its senior fellow in 2002. He is the past chair of the University’s joint committee on inspection, and serves on the  Corporation’s committee on shareholder responsibility, as well as the joint  committee on appointments and the committee on University resources.

Houghton has devoted his professional career to Corning Incorporated, one of the  world’s leading makers of specialty glass and ceramics. He started at Corning in 1962, after graduating from business school. He rose to become the company’s chairman of the board and chief executive officer from 1983 to 1996 and later served again as both chairman (2002-08) and CEO  (2002-05).

Houghton served on the boards of directors of several companies and remains chairman of the board of trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He is also a longtime trustee of both the Pierpont Morgan Library and the Corning Museum of Glass. He is past chairman of the Business Council of New York State and is a  member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission.

A search  to identify a new member of the Corporation will begin soon. Under the University's  charter, a new member is elected by the President and Fellows, with the counsel and consent of the Board of Overseers. The search will be conducted by a joint committee of the governing boards. Robert D.  Reischauer, who joined the Corporation in 2002 and served as a member of the Board of Overseers for the six preceding years, will succeed Houghton as  senior fellow.

Confidential letters of nomination or advice may be directed to the Corporation Search Committee, Harvard University, Loeb House,  17 Quincy St., Cambridge, MA 02138, or to  [email protected].


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