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Harvard Board Elects First Black Woman


A Georgetown University Law professor who specializes in biomedical ethics has become the first Black woman to sit on Harvard University’s governing board.

Patricia A. King, a 1969 alumna of Harvard Law School who has been on the Georgetown faculty for more than three decades, was elected this weekend to the seven-member Harvard Corporation, the university announced.

The election comes as Harvard continues to develop the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Researchers hope to find treatments for illnesses such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Critics say some of the research crosses a troubling ethical boundary.

King is “a person of extraordinarily broad intellectual and professional interests” with “abundant experience in bridging the worlds of academia and public policy, as well as the domains of law, science, and ethics,” James R. Houghton, senior member of the Harvard Corporation, said in a prepared statement.

King said she’s “deeply honored.” She begins in May.

“The extremely difficult challenges facing the nation and the world over the coming decades will require substantial efforts and contributions by our institutions of higher education,” King said in a statement.

She fills the vacancy left by Conrad K. Harper, who resigned this summer over a proposed raise to university President Lawrence H. Summers. Harper also cited his dissatisfaction with Summers’ controversial comments about women’s aptitude for science and math, as a reason for his resignation.

The Harvard Corporation makes policy and personnel decisions, including hiring the president and electing board members.

Associated Press

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