Campus & Community

Overseers announce senior officers for 2024-25

Vivian Hunt and Tyler Jacks.
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Vivian Hunt and Tyler Jacks to assume leadership roles after Commencement

Vivian Hunt ’89, M.B.A. ’95, chief innovation officer of Optum, a division of UnitedHealth Group, and former managing partner for the U.K. and Ireland at McKinsey & Company, has been elected president of the Harvard University Board of Overseers for the 2024-25 academic year.

Tyler Jacks ’83, a leading expert on cancer genetics research and longtime professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will serve as vice chair of the board’s executive committee for the same term.

Elected as Overseers in 2019, Hunt and Jacks will assume the board’s top leadership roles for the final year of their terms. They will succeed Max Hodges ’03, M.B.A. ’10, CEO of The Shed, an arts organization in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, and Geraldine Acuña-Sunshine ’92, M.P.P. ’96, president of the Sunshine Care Foundation for Neurological Care and Research, which serves indigent patients in rural areas of Asia.

“Vivian Hunt and Tyler Jacks are both exceptionally accomplished alumni and leaders,” said interim President Alan Garber. “Vivian is an eminent management consultant with deep expertise in organizational leadership, a broad international outlook, and extensive involvement with health care and the life sciences. Tyler is an outstanding cancer biologist with experience as an institute director, a strong commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration, and a dedication to translating basic research into effective therapies. Their complementary talents and experiences are sure to serve the University well in the year ahead.”

The Board of Overseers is one of Harvard’s two governing boards, along with the President and Fellows, also known as the Corporation. Formally established in 1642, the board plays an integral role in the governance of the University. As a central part of its work, the board directs the visitation process, the primary means for periodic external assessment of Harvard’s Schools and departments. Through its array of standing committees, and the roughly 50 visiting committees that report to them, the board probes the quality of Harvard’s programs and assures that the University remains true to its charter as a place of learning. More generally, drawing on its members’ diverse experience and expertise, the board provides counsel to the University’s leadership on priorities, plans, and strategic initiatives. The board also has the power of consent to certain actions, such as the election of Corporation members, including the president.

Vivian Hunt

Vivian Hunt is a business executive and recognized civic leader with longstanding interests in education, the arts, and equal opportunity across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. She is the chief innovation officer of UnitedHealth Group, a healthcare and well-being company with a mission to help people live healthier lives and help make the health system work better for everyone. Before assuming her role at UnitedHealth, she served as a senior partner at McKinsey & Company, advising a broad range of organizations. She served as the firm’s managing partner for the U.K. and Ireland for seven years and previously led McKinsey’s life sciences practices in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Hunt has served on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations, with a focus on education, arts and culture, and civil rights. She is the chair of Teach First, the U.K.’s largest education charity, and the founding chair of the Black Equity Organisation, the U.K.’s first national Black civil rights organization. She also serves on the boards of the British Museum and the Southbank Centre.

“I am both honored and humbled to be asked to serve as the president of the Board of Overseers for the upcoming academic year,” said Hunt.  “I also fully appreciate the challenges and opportunities facing the University in the years ahead. Tyler Jacks and I hope to work closely with Interim President Garber and all of our stakeholders to support excellence, inclusion, and world-class leadership in all that we do. We appreciate the trust of our community — students, faculty, staff, alumni, research partners, and our colleagues on the governing boards — and will do all we can to serve in a constructive and collaborative way. 

Hunt was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in Queen Elizabeth’s 2018 New Year Honours for services to the economy and women in business. She has received honorary doctorates in law from the University of Warwick, the University of York, and the University of Portsmouth and an honorary fellowship from University College London. She was recognized by the Financial Times as one of the 30 most influential people in the City of London and by the Powerlist Foundation as one of the 10 most influential Black people in Britain.

After graduating from Harvard College in 1989, Hunt served in the Peace Corps as a midwife and primary care worker in rural Senegal. She went on to graduate from Harvard Business School in 1995. While in college, Hunt lived in Kirkland House and worked part-time at several Harvard Student Agencies. She served as HSA president in 1988-89 and was also elected a class marshal.

As a Harvard Overseer, Hunt co-chairs the governing boards’ joint committee on alumni affairs and development. She also serves on the board’s executive committee and its subcommittee on governance, the committee on humanities and arts, and the committee on finance, administration, and management. In addition, she has been a member of a diverse array of visiting committees, including those for the Art Museums, the Business School, the Graduate School of Education, the English Department, and the Peabody Museum.

Tyler Jacks

A renowned leader in cancer genetics, Tyler Jacks is the David H. Koch Professor of Biology at MIT, where he joined the faculty in 1992. He is known for his pioneering work in constructing genetically engineered mouse models to better understand different types of human cancer. In recent years, the Jacks lab has moved into the burgeoning area of tumor immunology, to explore the interactions between the immune system and cancer and to pursue new therapeutic strategies.

Since 2021, Jacks has served as president of Break Through Cancer, a foundation dedicated to empowering outstanding researchers and physicians to seek treatments and cures for deadly cancers through new forms of collaboration. He was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator from 1994 to 2001. He also served for two decades, from 2001 to 2021, as director of the MIT Center for Cancer Research and its successor, the Koch Institute.

“Serving as an Overseer for these past five years has been a highly rewarding experience, and I have been pleased to have the opportunity to engage with the University leadership and many members of the broader Harvard community over this period,” Jacks said. “I am excited to work with my extremely talented and dedicated Overseer colleagues in this role and look forward to a productive year ahead.”

Past president of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), Jacks is former chair of the National Cancer Institute’s National Cancer Advisory Board and former director of the blue ribbon panel for the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative. His numerous honors include the AACR’s Outstanding Achievement Award, the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Amgen Award, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, and the Killian Award, MIT’s highest faculty honor. An elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is a director of both Amgen and Thermo Fisher Scientific, as well as co-founder of T2 Biosystems and Dragonfly Therapeutics.

After graduating from Harvard College in 1983, Jacks received his Ph.D. in biochemistry and biophysics in 1988 from the University of California, San Francisco, where he studied with Nobel laureate Harold Varmus ’62, S.D. (hon.) ’96. As a Harvard Overseer, Jacks currently chairs the board’s committee on natural and applied sciences. He is a member of the board’s executive committee and its subcommittee on visitation, as well the committee on Schools, the College, and continuing education and the joint committee on inspection. He has also served on visiting committees for the Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology.