Two Of Six Pro-Divestment Candidates Elected To Harvard Board
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) _ A Harvard University alumni group urging the school to divest its holdings in companies with dealings in South Africa has won the election of two of its candidates to the school’s Board of Overseers.
Although only two of its six candidates were elected, a spokesman for the anti-apartheid organization claimed victory Thursday, saying at least three of the four university-backed candidates elected also support divestment.
The Board of Overseers is less powerful than the school’s main governing body, the Harvard Corp., but is the only alumni-elected panel with influence on school policy. Six of the 30 overseer spots were up for election. Nearly 200,000 alumni were eligible to vote.
The six candidates from the pro-divestment group petitioned to be included on the ballot with 12 nominated candidates.
Harvard announced the results as part of its 336th commencement ceremonies.
Among the four Harvard-nominated candidates elected were Sen. Albert Gore Jr., D-Tenn., mentioned as a possible candidate for his party’s presidential nomination; author Frances FitzGerald, who won the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction for ″Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam;″ and Jerome B. Wiesner, president emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and science adviser to presidents Kennedy and Johnson.
Gore, Wiesner and Ms. FitzGerald have said they support divestment, said Bob Schaeffer, a spokesman for the pro-divestment group, Harvard and Radcliffe Alumni Against Apartheid.
Members of the pro-divestment group elected were Peter H. Wood, a Duke University history professor who led a successful divestment drive at Duke last year, and Consuela Washington, legal counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
″The results show that the alumni voted for pro-divestment candidates for at least five of the six seats that are open,″ Schaeffer said. ″It’s also the first time in the history of Harvard that more than one candidate has been elected by petition. We view this as a strong vote and referendum for divestment.″
Harvard has $250 million of its $4 billion endowment invested in companies with dealings in racially segregated South Africa.
The alumni group said if Harvard divested to protest South Africa’s apartheid racial separation system other schools likely would follow suit.
Harvard has argued that the group irresponsibly tried to create a single- issue election. It says its policy of ″selective divestment″ from companies it decides have failed to promote racial equality is a more effective method of promoting change in South Africa.
The fourth university-backed candidate elected was financial consultant Andrew F. Brimmer. Schaeffer said the anti-apartheid group was unfamiliar with Brimmer’s position on divestment. Brimmer’s secretary said he was out of the office and unavailable for comment.
Brimmer has been president of his own consulting firm, Brimmer and Co. Inc. of Washington, since 1976 and is a former member of the Federal Reserve Board’s board of governors.