Harvard University has announced the appointment of Kenneth C. Frazier, former CEO and chairman of Merck & Co., and private equity billionaire Joseph Y. Bae ’94 to the Harvard Corporation, the university’s highest governing body. Frazier will assume his role on Feb. 7, filling the vacancy left by David M. Rubenstein, while Bae will join on July 1, succeeding Paul J. Finnegan ’75.
The corporation, facing a leadership crisis, elected Frazier and Bae, a decision confirmed by the Board of Overseers. Frazier, a Harvard Law School graduate, brings extensive board experience, including roles at Weill Cornell Medicine and Exxon Mobil Corporation. Notably, he resigned from the American Manufacturing Council in 2017 in response to controversial comments by former President Donald Trump.
Bae, co-CEO of global investment firm KKR, serves on the Corporation Committee on Finance and holds positions on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council and FAS Committee on Financial Aid. His involvement in a $45 million group gift in 2021 underscores his commitment to expanding Harvard’s Asian American Studies program.
These strategic appointments come amid scrutiny of Harvard’s governing boards, particularly the Corporation, prompting calls for change. The inclusion of Frazier and Bae sets the stage for the Corporation to initiate a presidential search committee, marking a crucial step in selecting a successor for former President Claudine Gay.