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Lawyers Fail in Campaigns for Harvard Overseers

Silverglate Lawyers Harvey A. Silverglate (pictured) and Robert L. Freedman were unable to garner enough votes to win seats on Harvard University's Board of Overseers, one of two bodies that govern the prestigious university. Both Silverglate, a Cambridge, Mass., civil liberties lawyer, and Freedman, a partner in the Philadelphia office of Dechert, had hoped to win seats on the board and push for what they believe are needed reforms in Harvard's governance.

As we previously wrote here and here, the two lawyers faced a tough fight. The Harvard Alumni Association draws up the official slate of overseers candidates. The two lawyers could earn spots on the ballot only through a rarely successful petition campaign. Noting that Barack Obama lost his 1991 petition campaign, Silverglate joked early in his own campaign, "It is easier to be elected president of the United States than it is to be elected as a petition candidate to the Harvard Board of Overseers."

Each was able to collect enough signatures and get spots on the ballot, which was mailed to alumni April 1. Yesterday, Silverglate sent an e-mail to his supporters informing them that the election results were in and neither he nor Freedman won a seat.

I did not win a seat on the Harvard Board of Overseers this year, despite the enthusiastic support of so many people, including the 315 of you -- my original core supporters -- who signed my nomination forms, and the 11,700 alumni who voted for me. I finished in 8th place in a field of ten vying for six seats; I was 1,600 votes short of winning a seat. (There was an extra seat up for grabs this year, since former Overseer Arne Duncan left for a position in the Obama administration. Normally, there are five places open every year, each one for a six-year term.)

My informal running mate, Bob Freedman, also fell short. It was a difficult campaign, in large measure because the university refused Bob and me access to the email lists of the alumni voters. But, rather than rehash our campaign grievances, I wanted to extend a sincere “Thank you” to everyone involved in this campaign.

The official slate included one lawyer, Morgan Chu of Irell & Manella in Los Angeles, and former New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse, who is now a fellow at Yale Law School. I could find nothing on Harvard's Web site or elsewhere announcing the final results of the overseers voting, so I cannot say whether Chu or Greenhouse won seats.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on June 9, 2009 at 12:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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