Harvard Medalists

Photos of three Harvard Medalists
David L. Evans, Leila T. Fawaz, and Joseph J. O’Donnell
Photographs from left: HPAC, George Ellmore, and HPAC

The Harvard Alumni Association has recognized three individuals as the 2020 Harvard Medalists, honoring their extraordinary service to the University. (The actual medal presentation, typically part of the HAA’s annual meeting on Commencement day, has been deferred to a later date.)

David L. Evans, senior admissions officer at the College, retires this summer, following more than five decades of service through which he recruited a widely diverse group of students from across the country, and became a mentor, advocate, and friend for many undergraduates. Evans has advised the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations since 1981, and in 2003, the David L. Evans Scholarship Fund was established for students from underrepresented backgrounds. The Hutchins Center for African & African American Research awarded him the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal in 2016.

A trusted advisor, determined advocate, and faithful friend, you have embodied Harvard’s mission of inclusive excellence, blazing a trail as an admissions officer through your tenacious efforts to build a more diverse College, ensuring students from all backgrounds were welcomed into each class you helped select, and ushering in future changemakers for half a century.

 Leila T. Fawaz, Ph.D. ’79, the Fares professor of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean studies at Tufts, was a member of the Board of Overseers from 1996 to 2012—including a term as president; she also served as an Overseer member of the Harvard Alumni Association Committee to Nominate Overseers and Elected Directors (from 2009 to 2016). In 2012 she was named a Chevalier in the French National Order of the Legion of Honour, and in 2014 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Harvard Arab Alumni Association.

A towering scholar of history and the humanities with boundless curiosity and a remarkable ability to bring people together, you have bolstered connections among members of the Harvard community in the Middle East and around the world, leading by example, nurturing consensus, and building bridges across cultural, geographic, and disciplinary boundaries.

 Joseph J. O’Donnell ’67, M.B.A. ’71, has held numerous roles at Harvard, including as a member of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, and was tapped in 2013 to co-chair The Harvard Campaign. In addition, he has served on the Allston Work Team and on the Harvard College Fund executive committee, and chaired many College and Harvard Business School reunions. O’Donnell attended Harvard on a full scholarship, excelling in football and baseball (he later endowed the baseball-coach position and funded O’Donnell Field). He currently chairs Centerplate, Inc., a nationwide leader in the food-service industry.

Celebrated widely as a “Harvard treasure” for your down-to-earth leadership and inspiring commitment to philanthropy and service, you have cultivated lasting relationships across all parts of the University and among community partners, continually spurring Harvard to be better with your wise counsel, your invaluable insight, and your steadfast resolve to provide every student with the means to succeed.  


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