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Board & Corporation

Trustees and Corporation Members work together to promote the identity, mission, and standards of excellence of the Institution by sharing time, talent, and personal resources according to individual means. They work as ambassadors and they advocate to increase external recognition and forge new connections that help sustain and increase both public and private support for the Institution. They provide active fiduciary oversight of finances, physical assets, and long range plans to ensure the abiding vitality of the Institution. And they appoint and monitor the performance of executive leadership, standing always ready to advise and offer support in setting goals and priorities.

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Officers of the Board

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Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Newton P.S. Merrill

Newt Merrill was elected chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in May 2007. He was first elected to the WHOI Corporation in 1993 and to Board of Trustees in 1997. He has served on the Investment Committee, the Coastal Ocean Institute Committee, the Campaign Committee, and the Executive Committee.

Merrill is a former senior executive vice president of The Bank of New York, from which he retired in 2004. He headed groups handling lending to large corporations, as well as leasing and investment banking activities. He briefly left to work as a senior executive vice president for the Bank of Boston, then returned to The Bank of New York.

Merrill serves as chairman of the Museum of the City of New York and as a trustee with the Connecticut River Museum.

He was born in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., Merrill and attended Harvard College. He now lives in New York City and Lyme, Conn.

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Chairman of the Corporation

John F. O'Brien

John "Jack" O'Brien was elected chairman of the Corporation of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in May 2009. He was elected a Trustee and a Member of the Corporation in 2003. He is a member of the Executive, Compensation, and Development Committees, as well as the Committee on the Board.

Mr. O'Brien is the former chief executive officer of Allmerica Financial Corporation, from which he retired in 2002. He is a former executive officer of FMR Corp., the parent company of various financial services companies in the Fidelity Group, which he was affiliated with for over 20 years.

Jack serves as co-chairman of the Harvard Class of ’65 Endowment Fund, and is a member of the Committee on University Resources and the Major Gifts Committee of Harvard College. He is lead director of TJX Companies, Inc. and a director of LKQ Corporation. He is non-executive chairman of the Cabot Corporation, an honorary trustee of the Worcester Art Museum, and trustee emeritus of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Jack, a native of Massachusetts, lives in Needham. He earned his bachelor's and master’s degrees (MBA) from Harvard.

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President and Director

Susan K. Avery

Susan K. Avery took office as president and director of WHOI on February 4, 2008. Avery is the ninth director in the institution’s 78-year history, and the first woman to hold the position.

As an oceanographic leader with a background in atmospheric research, Avery has used her unique position to underscore the importance of ocean-atmosphere interactions in understanding whole Earth systems.

Since taking the helm at WHOI, Avery has delivered Congressional testimony and presentations at scientific conferences such as the American Meteorological Society, the IEEE International Geoscience & Remote Sensing Symposium, the American Geological Union, and the Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO),often directing her comments at the intersection of atmospheric, earth, and ocean science. [ MORE ]

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Hardwick Simmons

Hardwick (Wick) Simmons is retired as Chairman and CEO of NASDAQ. Previously, he was President and CEO of Prudential Securities, Inc., and President of the Private Client Group at Shearson Lehman Brothers.

Mr. Simmons is a Trustee of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and a Director of Raymond James Financial Corp., Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., Stonetex Oil Corp., Invivoscribe Technologies, Inc., and the Women's Tennis Association.

Mr. Simmons holds degrees from Harvard University and Harvard Business School.

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Clerk of the Corporation

Tom Nemmers

Last updated: January 6, 2015