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Harvard University Names Chenault, Mills as Board Members

American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault
Kenneth Chenault, chairman and chief executive officer of American Express Co., listens to a question during an Economic Club of Washington luncheon in Washington, D.C., on April 15, 2013. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Harvard University named Kenneth Chenault, chairman and chief executive officer of American Express Co., and former U.S. Small Business Administration head Karen Gordon Mills members of its board.

The two will take their posts, formally known as Fellows of Harvard College, July 1, replacing Robert Reischauer and Robert Rubin, who are stepping down from the 13-member board, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based university said today in a statement.

A 1976 graduate of Harvard Law School, Chenault serves on numerous boards, including those of the National Academy Foundation, the New York University Langone Medical Center and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Mills, after stepping down from the government agency in August, became a senior fellow at Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government. She graduated from Harvard College in 1975 and the business school in 1977.

“Harvard is again fortunate to be able to turn to two such accomplished and dedicated graduates to help guide the university’s affairs and help all of us envision and embrace the possibilities ahead,” Harvard President Drew Faust said in a statement on the university’s website.

Diverse Expertise

Faust, who is a member of the board, expanded its membership to 13 from seven after the university’s endowment, the world’s largest educational fund at $32.7 billion, lost more than a quarter of its value in the financial crisis that began in 2008. Faust said at the time that she wanted to add expertise in different types of knowledge to the board, also known as the Harvard Corporation, which is the oldest incorporated body in the U.S. and Harvard’s highest authority.

A member of President Barack Obama’s Council on Jobs, Chenault is one of a few blacks leading Fortune 500 companies, along with Kenneth C. Frazier at Merck & Co. and Ursula Burns at Xerox Corp. He serves on the law school’s Dean’s Advisory Board and Harvard’s Committee on University Resources, according to the statement.

Mills recently returned to MMP Group, a private equity firm based in Maine, where she had served as president before taking her government post, according to the Harvard statement. She was also a founding partner and managing director of Solera Capital, a New York-based venture capital firm, and has served on numerous boards, according to the statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Lauerman in Boston at jlauerman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lisa Wolfson at lwolfson@bloomberg.net

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