Robert N. Shapiro: An Advocate of One Harvard

Photo by Bob O'ConnorPhoto by Bob O'Connor

In the nearly five decades since Robert N. Shapiro ’72, JD ’78 came to Harvard College as a freshman in 1968, he has been an undergraduate, a law student, a Fiske Scholar, a member of the Harvard-Cambridge Scholarship selection committee, president of the Harvard Alumni Association, president of the Harvard Law School Association, and a Harvard overseer. His service spans the University.

Shapiro saw his six-year term on the Board of Overseers as not just a privilege but an opportunity to immerse himself in everything Harvard. He dove into his duties by serving on 12 visiting committees to schools and departments across the University. The experience has given him unique breadth and depth of knowledge about the University; Shapiro sees the “One Harvard” message as the common thread connecting the many units with which he has been involved.

At the Radcliffe Institute, Shapiro believes that the One Harvard ideal is fully realized. “Radcliffe is a microcosm of the University at its best,” he says. “It’s an example of how it can be more unified. Radcliffe catalyzes ideas, and that is the stuff of a research university.”

Shapiro is a senior partner in the Private Client Group at the Boston office of the global law firm Ropes & Gray. He will soon take a leading role in the firm’s new Ropes Wealth Advisors venture, so he knows better than most the importance of estate planning. He is honoring his mother, Edna Newman Shapiro ’36, with a bequest to Radcliffe in the form of an unrestricted endowment. “What are you going to be doing in 100 years?” he asks. “With an endowment, you know you will be doing something. It’s thrilling.”

Edna Newman in Radcliffe College Yearbook, 1936Edna Newman in Radcliffe College Yearbook, 1936

For information about making a planned gift, contact John Christel, Radcliffe’s liaison at the University Planned Giving office, at (617) 384-8231 or

Search Year: