Harvard Medalists

Three people honored for extraordinary service to the University

From left: Scott A. Abell, Katherine “Katie” N. Lapp, M. Lee Pelton | PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF HAA; MONTAGE BY NIKO YAITANES/HARVARD MAGAZINE

The Harvard Alumni Association has announced the recipients of the 2024 Harvard Medal, to be awarded in person during the Harvard Alumni Day festivities on May 31.

Scott A. Abell ’72 has been an alumni leader for the University for more than 30 years. His roles include president of the Harvard Board of Overseers (and board member from 2012 to 2018), president of the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA), 2000-2001, and dean for development in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). To all his Harvard posts, he has brought expertise honed through his work and career as founder, chair, and CEO of Abell & Associates, his financial services holding company in Akron, Ohio (from which he retired in 2004). Other Harvard alumni activities include serving as president of the Harvard Club of Northeast Ohio, acting as longtime chair of its schools and scholarships committee; HAA regional director; and vice chair of the Harvard College Fund executive committee. In 2003 he received an HAA Award honoring his contributions to the alumni community.

Katherine “Katie” N. Lapp was an instrumental leader of Harvard’s administrative and operations activities, serving as executive vice president from 2009 to 2022. She played an integral role in the University’s approach to the COVID pandemic, from the onset of the crisis—testing, policies, and implementation of health protocols—through the return of students and faculty to campus. Also responsible for aspects of human resources, finance, and capital planning, she helped oversee the University’s response to the Great Recession, along with instituting its sustainability goals (co-chairing the Presidential Committee on Sustainability), and was integral to the planning and execution of the new development projects in Allston.

M. Lee Pelton, Ph.D. ’84, an academic and civic leader, is a longtime Harvard alumni volunteer. He served on the Graduate School Alumni Association Council (1996 to 2005) and on the Board of Overseers (2000 to 2006), including one year as vice chair of the executive committee. He also was a member of the visiting committees for Harvard College, the Harvard Library, and Athletics, as well as the Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility. Outside of Harvard, he served as president of Willamette University, and in 2011 was named president of Emerson College, where he increased faculty, enhanced student diversity, developed national and global programs, and took on salient social issues. Responding to the Sandy Hook mass shooting, he rallied some 250 college and university presidents to call for gun legislation. Following the murder of George Floyd, his letter to the Emerson community, which highlighted his own experiences with racial profiling, went viral. He is currently the president and CEO of the Boston Foundation, which addresses the region’s greatest disparities for historically marginalized communities.

Read the University announcement here.

Read more articles by Nell Porter Brown

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