Alumni News and Features


HSPH Alumna Elected to Harvard's Board of Overseers

Thank you to all alumni who voted in this important process!

We are pleased to announce that the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) has elected Dr. Swati Piramal MPH ’92 to serve a six-year term as Overseer. Dr. Piramal joins Dr. Walter Clair AB ’77, MD ’81, MPH ’85 as one of only two HSPH alumni, and the only alumna from India, on the thirty-member board. Also elected as Overseers were Scott A. Abell, AB '82; James E. Johnson, AB '83, JD '86; Tracy P. Palandjian, AB '93, MBA '97; and Kathryn A. Taylor, AB '80.

Dr. Swati Piramal has used her background in medicine, public health and business to change the trajectory of healthcare, education, and public policy in India. She is the Director of Piramal Healthcare, a leading drug discovery company which aims to bring affordable medicines to reduce the burden of disease globally. As Director of the Piramal Foundation, she helps promote health in rural India with mobile health services, women’s empowerment projects and supporting community education that create young leaders.

The first woman president of India’s Apex Chamber of Commerce in 90 years, she helped influence important public policies and governance. She is an adviser to India’s Prime Minister in science, technology and industrial policy and was awarded the 2012 Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian awards for distinguished contribution to the nation. She has helped organize faculty study programs, student internships including President Faust’s recent trip to India, in life sciences and business. Dr. Piramal earned her medical degree, an M.B.B.S, from Mumbai University in 1980 and her MPH in International Health from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1992.

She currently serves on the Board of Deans Advisors of both the Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Business School. She was HSPH’s 1992 Student Commencement Speaker and served on a task force on chronic health issues in developing countries. She says “I believe I can contribute an international perspective and deep experience in creating effective change in large institutions. Harvard will achieve its potential when its graduates see themselves as destined to be leaders who make a positive difference to their community and their world.”

In April 2012 Dr. Piramal spoke at HSPH as part of the Voices from the Field series on leadership. Watch the video here.

    Dr. Swati Piramal

    Dr. Swati Piramal is one of India’s leading scientists and industrialists, and is involved in healthcare, focusing on public health and innovation whose work has touched thousands of lives.

    Dr. Piramal earned her medical degree, an M.B.B.S, from Mumbai University in 1980 and her MPH in International Health from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1992.

    She is Director of Piramal Healthcare, a leading drug discovery company, and Director of the Piramal Foundation, that promotes health in rural India.

About Harvard’s Leadership
Since its early days in the mid-seventeenth century, Harvard has had two governing boards: the President and Fellows of Harvard College (also known as the Corporation) and the Board of Overseers. Through their complementary efforts, the two boards perform the essential roles ordinarily associated with a board of trustees, while helping to shape the University’s agenda, inquiring into the quality and progress of its activities, and assuring that Harvard remains true to its mission.

While the Harvard Corporation is charged with the fiduciary responsibility for the University, the Board of Overseers is the larger of the two boards, comprised of thirty elected members as well as the President and the Treasurer of the University, who serve ex officio. Overseers are elected to six-year terms by vote of Harvard degree holders. Drawing on the wide-ranging experience and expertise of its members, the Board exerts broad influence over the University’s strategic directions, provides counsel to the University leadership on priorities and plans, and has the power of consent to certain actions of the Corporation. The Board of Overseers’ chief functions include superintendence of the visitation process, the principal mechanism for periodic external review of the quality and direction of the University’s schools, departments, and selected other programs and activities. The Board carries out this responsibility largely through the operation of more than fifty visiting committees, whose work is overseen by and reported to the Board. The Board of Overseers has had such illustrious members such as John F Kennedy and Bishop Desmond Tutu. Read more about Harvard’s Leadership.