Paul L. Choi to Lead Harvard Supervisory Board | News

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Paul L. Choi ’86, a corporate governance lawyer, will serve as chairman of Harvard’s board of supervisors for next year, the university announced Monday. Leslie P. Tolbert ’73, professor of neuroscience, will serve as vice chair.

The Board of Overseers – Harvard’s second governing body – is made up of 30 alumni who advise on the direction of the school, advise top administrators, and approve certain actions of the Harvard Corporation. Choi and Tolbert were elected to the board in 2017 and will lead the organization in the final year of their six-year term.

The announcement comes amid voting for new Supervisory Board members. Nine Harvard alumni are vying for six vacancies. Except for those who already serve on university governance, all Harvard degree holders who graduated before Jan. 1 can vote. Voting closes May 17.

Six nominees were endorsed by the Coalition for a Diverse Harvard, a network of Harvard affiliates dedicated to increasing diversity and promoting equity at the University.

After graduating from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Choi became a clerk at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Today, he is a partner at Sidley Austin, an international law firm, where he is the global co-head of its mergers and acquisitions practice and a member of the firm’s executive committee.

As a member of the oversight board, Choi sits on several internal committees, including the body’s executive committee, institutional policy committee, and election task force. Choi has also served or sits on visiting committees—panels of experts and alumni charged with evaluating schools and departments—across the University.

Prior to joining university governance, Choi served as president of the Harvard Alumni Association from 2015 to 2016 and serves on the law school dean’s board of directors.

“It is a tremendous honor and privilege to be elected Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and to have the opportunity to serve the university and my fellow board members in this new role,” Choi said in an interview with The Harvard Gazette, a publication overseen by the University’s Public Affairs Department.

After graduating from Harvard College with honors, Tolbert earned a Ph.D. in Anatomy from the University and continued his research at Harvard Medical School and the Faculty of Arts and Science. Tolbert then left Cambridge for Washington DC, where she joined Georgetown University Medical School before later moving to the University of Arizona, where she is now a professor emeritus.

Leslie P. Tolbert '73

Leslie P. Tolbert ’73

Tolbert’s research focuses on cellular and developmental neuroscience, namely the impact of sensory inputs on brain circuitry, the interactions of neurons and glial cells, and the development and plasticity of the olfactory system.

She has also held leadership positions at the University of Arizona, including Senior Vice President for Research, Acting Dean of the Graduate College, and Chair of the Campus Committee on Neuroscience.

At Harvard, Tolbert serves on the executive council of the Board of Overseers and several other internal committees, including the Natural and Applied Sciences Committee and the Harvard Library Visiting Committee.

Choi said he was “grateful to have Leslie Tolbert, a distinguished scientist and a wonderful colleague, as a partner at the helm of the board.”

University president Lawrence S. Bacow praised Choi and Tolbert in an interview with the Harvard Gazette, a publication run by the university.

“Both Paul Choi and Leslie Tolbert served Harvard with uncommon dedication and distinction, particularly during their final five years as invigilators,” he said. “Paul has extensive experience in the governance of complex organizations, including Harvard, and a long leadership experience in alumni affairs. Leslie is a widely admired scientist, educator and university leader who has played a particularly valuable role in our visitation committee process over the past few years.

Choi and Tolbert succeed Helena Buonanno Foulkes ’86 and P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale ’74. Foulkes is currently running for governor of Rhode Island.

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