Harvard Coop’s Changing of the Guard

New leadership for a staple Square retailer

Current Coop CEO Jerry Murphy, and his successor, Jodi Goldstein  | PHOTOGRAPH BY Evgenia Eliseeva

The Harvard Coop announced today that CEO Jerry Murphy ’73, M.B.A. ’77, will retire on September 1, concluding a Harvard Square career that began when he joined the historic retailer in 1991 after earlier experience at Neiman Marcus. He will be succeeded by Jodi Goldstein, M.B.A. ’96, who was a founder of the Harvard Innovation Labs in 2011 and served as managing director from 2015 to 2020; she has since been strategic adviser and executive in residence at the i-Lab.

Murphy has overseen the Coop’s transition from department store to hybrid academic and community bookstore (in partnership with the Barnes and Noble college division), and the shift from a member rebate to member discounts—an important adaptation to online retailing competition. The Coop was renovated extensively during his tenure as CEO, most significantly in 1996-1997 when it installed the Harvard-themed interior and spiral staircase visitors see today, and again during the pandemic, when it consolidated operations formerly in the Palmer Street annex. The café, introduced in the earlier renovation, was eliminated during the more recent configuration. Those renovations both updated the selling facility and responded to changing markets for both student textbooks (increasingly delivered online) and trade books.

Murphy also remained engaged with the community through his mentorship of Harvard and MIT students, hundreds of whom served on the Coop board of directors. Many have gone on to business careers. In a statement in the announcement, Murphy said, “It has been an honor to serve as CEO of the Harvard Cooperative Society these last 30+ years. I am proud of what we have accomplished, and I have truly enjoyed working with fantastic colleagues and students along the way. I am confident that Jodi’s leadership will propel the Coop to new heights, and I look forward to witnessing its continued success.”

According to the announcement, Goldstein “aims to enhance member services, expand student engagement, refresh the Coop’s digital presence, and further activate the Coop’s real estate presence”—the latter perhaps referring to repurposing the owned Palmer Street facility. In a statement, she said, “I am thrilled and honored to be stepping into the role of CEO at the Harvard Cooperative Society. I am deeply grateful to Jerry Murphy for his outstanding leadership and dedicated service to the Coop and its members. I am excited to build on his legacy and continue to drive the growth and transformation of this historic institution. I look forward to working with the Coop's talented team, engaging with our members, and serving the Harvard and MIT communities.”

John P. Reardon Jr., former Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) executive director, chair of the Coop’s board, said, “Jerry has been a fantastic CEO for over 30 years and has made his mark on the Coop, leaving it in an excellent position. He leaves large shoes to fill, but Jodi’s strategic vision and innovative mindset make her the ideal leader for the next chapter. We are thrilled to welcome her aboard, and we are forever grateful to Jerry.”

Read more articles by: John S. Rosenberg

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