Kate Walsh ’77 SPH ’79, the president and CEO of a not-for-profit medical center in Boston, will join the Yale Corporation as an alumni fellow, University President Peter Salovey announced in a speech to alumni on Saturday.
Walsh defeated another business executive, Roger Lee ’94, in this year’s alumni fellow election to replace outgoing trustee E. John Rice ’88. She will serve a six-year term, starting July 1.
“The Yale Medical School is almost half of Yale, and it will be terrific to have a trustee with direct experience in the hospital world,” Salovey said to hundreds of alumni gathered in Woolsey Hall on the first reunion weekend of the summer.
Walsh, who runs the Boston Medical Center, a nonprofit medical group that primarily helps low-income patients, has also served on the University Council and the Corporation Committee on the School of Medicine.
“I have a lot to learn about the role and responsibilities so will focus at the outset at learning the role and re-acquainting myself with today’s Yale,” Walsh said in an email to the News. “I’m very excited at the prospect of learning how the leadership, faculty and students in all walks of Yale life come together in pursuit of excellence.”
Weile Cheng ’77, the executive director of the Association of Yale Alumni, said Walsh’s experience working in complex organizations will be “a huge asset.” And in an interview following his speech, Salovey told the News that Walsh will bring health care expertise as well as enthusiasm for Yale to the Corporation.
In the past, the annual alumni fellow election has often flown under the radar. But this year, in light of ongoing debate about the transparency and accessibility of the Corporation, the election drew renewed scrutiny from students and alumni.
In April, Yale officials intervened to prevent Walsh and Lee from participating in endorsement interviews with the News, citing a rule against campaigning in the alumni fellow election. At the same time, the conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. Program circulated a petition calling for the two candidates to participate in a forum on free expression.
The Corporation has a total of 16 trustees, 10 of whom are appointed by their predecessors and serve for 12 years. The other six are elected by alumni and serve staggered six-year terms, meaning that a new election takes place every year. Nominees for the alumni fellow position are selected by the AYA, although candidates can also enter the race through a petition drive.
Walsh’s new position on the Corporation is not her first role in university governance. From 2012 to 2016, she served as vice chair of the board of trustees at Emmanuel College, where she was one of the college president’s most trusted confidantes.
In an April interview with the News, Co-Chairman of the Emmanuel Board of Trustees Tom Hynes described Walsh as a perceptive, decisive trustee with a deep understanding of the modern university.
“She could analyze problems and come down with a synthesized response very quickly versus someone who would ponder for days,” Hynes said.
At Yale, Walsh lived in Saybrook College and played women’s ice hockey, which became an official varsity sport the year after she graduated.