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New Members of Harvard Corporation

Kenneth C. Frazier and Joseph Y. Bae to join governing board

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

We write to let you know that two accomplished alumni will join the Harvard Corporation in the coming months. Kenneth C. Frazier, an acclaimed leader, lawyer, and advocate for opportunity, will become a Fellow of Harvard College on February 7, 2024, filling a current vacancy on the Corporation. Joseph Y. Bae, an admired expert in finance with extensive global experience and a long record of service to Harvard, will become a Fellow of Harvard College on July 1, when Paul J. Finnegan concludes his twelve years of service on the Corporation. In line with Harvard’s charter, both new Fellows were elected today by the Corporation with the consent of the Board of Overseers.

Ken Frazier, a 1978 graduate of Harvard Law School, is former chairman and CEO of Merck & Co., one of the world’s premier biopharmaceutical companies. In addition to his experience leading a complex global enterprise with a major commitment to biomedical research, he has had a distinguished career as a practicing lawyer, first in private practice and later as Merck’s general counsel. Known for his dedication to expanding opportunity for others, he recently co-founded OneTen, a nonprofit coalition focused on expanding family-sustaining employment opportunities for people lacking a four-year degree with an emphasis on Black Americans.

He currently serves as chair of health assurance initiatives at the venture capital firm General Catalyst. A member of the Harvard Law School Dean’s Council, he has had extensive experience as a board member for his undergraduate alma mater, Penn State, and an array of other nonprofit and for-profit organizations. His many honors include the Anti-Defamation League’s Courage Against Hate Award (2020) “for using his platform to speak out on behalf of marginalized communities and serving as an exemplary role model for corporate leadership.” Chief Executive magazine named him CEO of the Year in 2021, and he has appeared twice on TIME’s annual list of the world’s most influential people. 

Joe Bae,a 1994 graduate of Harvard College, is co-CEO of KKR, a global investment firm where he has worked for nearly three decades. He became co-CEO in 2021, after having served as the firm’s co-president and co-COO since 2017. He is credited, among other things, as being the architect of KKR’s major expansion into Asia, and overseeing the firm’s global private equity, infrastructure, and real estate businesses. 

Highly experienced in institutional governance, he has served on numerous boards, including institutions such as the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (current vice chair), Phillips Academy Andover (former trustee and chair of nominating and governance committee), the Asia Society, the Hong Kong Ballet, and the Nature Conservancy’s Asia Pacific Council.  He is also a co-founder and board member of The Asian American Foundation (TAAF), which was established in 2021 to serve the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

He has been one of Harvard’s most engaged alumni leaders in recent decades. Among other roles, he serves on the Corporation Committee on Finance, the University’s Global Advisory Council, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council, and the FAS Committee on Financial Aid. Along with his wife, the novelist Janice Y. K. Lee ’94, he led a recent philanthropic drive to support an FAS initiative to expand education and scholarship in Asian American studies.

Our two newly elected Corporation members emerged from a deliberative process led by members of Harvard’s two governing boards. In assessing nominees, consideration was given to a range of criteria including, among others, experience in leading complex organizations; prior service in board-level governance roles, especially with educational, cultural, and other nonprofit institutions; the importance of maintaining strength on the Corporation in fields such as finance, law, biomedical research, and the arts; international outlook; breadth of interests; dedication to creating opportunity for others; demonstrated commitment to fostering excellence in teaching, learning, and research, along with the ideals of excellence, inclusion, and academic freedom; and personal qualities such as integrity, judgment, intellectual acumen, open-mindedness, and discretion. 

We very much look forward to welcoming both Ken Frazier and Joe Bae to the Corporation. Our work is sure to benefit from their leadership qualities, their wide-ranging expertise and experience, and their devotion to Harvard and higher education. We know that they share a commitment to academic freedom, inclusion, and the pursuit of excellence in Harvard’s mission of teaching and research. 


Alan M. Garber, Interim President

Penny Pritzker, Senior Fellow