University People

Doctor in the House Harvey V. Fineberg, Harvard’s provost, began a medical leave and underwent surgery December 16 for what was described...

Doctor in the House

Harvey V. Fineberg, Harvard’s provost, began a medical leave and underwent surgery December 16 for what was described as an early-stage cancer of the prostate. Fineberg, himself an M.D. (’71, as well as an A.B. ’67, M.P.P. ’72, and Ph.D. ’80), was interviewed for this magazine’s January-February issue (“The Provost Meets the Press,” page 68), which was printed and mailed to readers during his brief hospitalization. Befitting his role as the University’s chief technologist, Fineberg began reading and responding to his e-mails on New Year’s Day, when he shared news of his recuperation and excellent prognosis, based on the pathology report following the surgery. As this issue went to press, the provost expected to resume working in his Massachusetts Hall office in early February, at the beginning of spring semester. Noting that he was glad to have the surgery behind him, Fineberg added that he “would have preferred to take final exams.”


Decanal Duo

Two significant positions are turning over within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on July 1. Having completed terms as dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and dean of undergraduate education, respectively, Christoph J. Wolff and William M. Todd III are relinquishing their administrative duties to return full time to teaching and research.

Dean of the faculty Jeremy R. Knowles has announced that Wolff, the Mason professor of music, will be succeeded at the graduate school by Peter T. Ellison, Ph.D. ’83, professor of anthropology and curator of human biology in the Peabody Museum. Wolff has recently overseen the design and phasing in of enhanced and longer-term financial support for doctoral students—an initiative that Ellison helped to shape as chair of a faculty committee—and has promoted more consistent, supportive advising for students during their long years of research and dissertation writing. Todd, Reisinger professor of Slavic languages and literatures, hands over the reins to professor of history Susan G. Pedersen ’81, Ph.D. ’89. Todd has been involved in the expansion of Core course offerings, a review of departmental concentrations, and faculty debates on section sizes and foreign-language requirements. Pedersen, who specializes in modern European history, comes to her new duties well prepared: besides her own Harvard undergraduate education, she teaches the introductory course History 10b, “Western Societies, Politics, and Cultures: From 1650 to the Present.”

Changing of the Guard

The reshaping of the President and Fellows of Harvard College, the University’s seven-member executive governing board, continues. Following the decision by Judith Richards Hope, J.D. ’64, to step down as a Fellow in February (January-February, page 83), Richard A. Smith ’46 announced in January his plan to do the same at the end of the academic year. Smith has served on the Corporation since 1991, following two years as a member of the Board of Overseers. A business leader—he is chairman and former chief executive officer of Harcourt General Inc. and of Neiman Marcus Group—Smith has also been prominently involved in Boston nonprofit organizations, chairing Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and holding directorships of other healthcare and cultural institutions. Citing those experiences, President Neil L. Rudenstine said of Smith, “He has brought exceptional talents to the Corporation, including his understanding of complex institutions, of financial and organizational matters, and of research and education in the health sciences.” Smith called his Harvard service “over the last decade of the millennium…an awesome responsibility” which has “challenged my academic capabilities and pressured me to mine my business and social service career experience in order to contribute as much as possible.”

His retirement was originally planned to take place in 1997 (“Mr. Smith Stays in Cambridge,” July-August 1997, page 67). But he was persuaded to stay on while the search for what Senior Fellow Robert G. Stone Jr. ’45 then called “the next generation” of Corporation members could be conducted—younger candidates who could eventually free enough time from other commitments to become involved in Harvard’s governance. The departure of Hope and Smith, and the completion of the University Campaign, may signal that such candidates, having been identified, are now ready to step forward.


Juris Doctor Dean

Reflecting growth in the Law School’s core program and efforts to enhance the teaching and learning experience, a new office—dean of the J.D. program—has been created. Todd Rakoff ’67, J.D. ’75, Byrne professor of administrative law, assumes the post on July 1. He will oversee the curriculum, appointment of lecturers and visiting professors, and academic requirements for students and faculty members.   

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