Harcourt, Hu, Speiser, Yu Appointed to IAS Board of Trustees

A Diverse Portfolio of Leadership

The Institute for Advanced Study has appointed Bernard E. Harcourt, Fred Hu, Mike Speiser, and Pauline Yu to its Board of Trustees, effective immediately.

This enterprising group brings a wide array of experience and insight to the IAS Board. Each of these individuals has established their own strong track record of success, embodying the Institute’s drive to push beyond conventional wisdom and pioneer new ways of approaching problems. Hailing from the worlds of social theory, economics, internet technology, and comparative literature, these new Trustees bring diverse perspectives and the promise of unique synergies to the operations of the Board.

As an incubator of knowledge across the sciences and humanities, the IAS relies on the broad expertise and creativity of its Board. These new appointments build upon this tradition and ensure a unified vision as IAS continues to grow and evolve. It is a global imperative to consider science in terms of its social impacts. For this reason, IAS is uniquely positioned to expand upon its fundamental leadership role in the pursuit of new knowledge.


Bernard E. Harcourt is a critical theorist, social justice lawyer, and educator. A former Visiting Professor in the School of Social Science (2016–17), he is currently the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science at Columbia University in New York City and Directeur d’études at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Harcourt is the author or editor of more than a dozen books. His most recent book, Critique & Praxis: A Critical Philosophy of Illusions, Values, and Action (2020) charts a vision for political action and social transformation. In The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens (2018), Harcourt examines how techniques of counterinsurgency warfare spread to U.S. domestic policy and policing.

Harcourt began his legal career representing individuals on Alabama’s death row, and has also served on human rights missions to South Africa and Guatemala. He continues to represent pro bono persons sentenced to death and life imprisonment without parole, as well as those detained at Guantanamo Bay. In 2019, Harcourt was awarded the New York City Bar Association’s Norman J. Redlich Capital Defense Distinguished Service Award, a lifetime achievement award for his work on behalf of individuals on death row.

Harcourt earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2000, a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1989, and an A.B. from Princeton University in 1984.


Fred Hu, an economist, is founder and chairman of Primavera Capital Group, a private investment firm focused on innovative industries. He was previously a partner at Goldman Sachs. He has a master’s degree in engineering science from Tsinghua University, and both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

Hu serves on several corporate and philanthropic boards. He is the non-executive chairman of Yum China Holdings and is a director for Ant Group, ICBC, and UBS Group AG. He is co-chair of the Nature Conservancy Asia Pacific Council, a trustee of the China Medical Board, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations Global Advisory Board and Harvard University’s Global Advisory Council. He also serves on the Dean’s Leadership Council at Harvard Kennedy School and on the Global Advisory Board of the Jerome A. Chazen Institute for Global Business at Columbia Business School.


Mike Speiser, innovator, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist, is Managing Director of Sutter Hill Ventures, a position he has held since 2008. Speiser serves on a number of boards including Snowflake Computing, Lacework, Sila Nanotechnologies, Ghost, Observe, Sigma Computing, Clumio, Transposit, and several other unannounced projects. He was founding CEO and founding investor at Snowflake Computing, a cloud database company, and currently serves as its Lead Independent Director. Mike was the founding CEO and founding investor of Pure Storage and Observe, and is currently serving as CEO of his latest incubation. Speiser was also previously a lecturer at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. His approach to company building and his hands-on approach is evolving the venture capital industry and propelling innovation in a wide range of industries.

Prior to joining Sutter Hill, Speiser worked for Yahoo!, Symantec, co-founded Epinions, worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, and was an analyst with Credit Suisse First Boston. Speiser earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, from which he graduated as a Baker Scholar, and he earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Arizona.


Pauline Yu is a scholar of Chinese literature and culture, former IAS Director’s Visitor (2014), and past president of the American Council of Learned Societies (2003–19). During her tenure, in the words of ACLS Board Chair’s Bill Kirby, “she promoted scholarship at the highest level across fields and national boundaries, while reinvigorating our nation’s leading organization in support of the humanities. During Pauline’s tenure, ACLS more than doubled the number of research fellowships it awards, tripled the dollar value of awards to scholars, and increased its endowment by 110 percent. Under Pauline’s leadership, ACLS initiated programs that reach scholars around the world and across the realms of academic disciplines, deepened the public’s engagement with scholarship, and established directions for its next century of service to the academy and society.”

Yu holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Stanford University, and served as Dean of Humanities in the College of Letters and Science and Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA from 1994 to 2003. She is the author or editor of five books and has authored dozens of articles on literary theory, Chinese poetry, comparative poetics, and issues on the advancement of the humanities.

Yu is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) and member of the American Philosophical Society and The Committee of 100. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, the Teagle Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, and the AAAS, and serves on the Editorial Board of the Hsu-Tang Library of Classical Chinese Literature. She previously served on the National Humanities Center Board of Trustees, the Harvard University Board of Overseers, and the Scholars Council of the Library of Congress’s Kluge Center. She holds five honorary degrees and is a senior research scholar at Columbia University.

About the Institute
The Institute for Advanced Study is one of the world’s foremost centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. Located in Princeton, NJ, IAS is dedicated to independent study across the sciences and humanities. Founded in 1930, the Institute is devoted to advancing the frontiers of knowledge without concern for immediate application. From founding IAS Professor Albert Einstein to the foremost thinkers of today, IAS enables bold, curiosity-driven innovation to enrich society in unexpected ways.

Each year, the Institute welcomes more than 200 of the world’s most promising post-doctoral researchers and scholars who are selected and mentored by a permanent Faculty, each of whom are preeminent leaders in their fields. Among present and past Faculty and Members there have been 35 Nobel Laureates, 42 of the 60 Fields Medalists, and 21 of the 24 Abel Prize Laureates, as well as many MacArthur Fellows and Wolf Prize winners.

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