Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard's Journal

Brevia

November-December 2001

CONCEIVING CUBISM. The Fogg Art Museum has acquired Georges Braque's La Baie de l'Estaque (Bay of l'Estaque), painted in 1908. Created during Braque's summer visit to the southern French village where Paul Cézanne painted landscapes during the 1880s, Braque's planar rendering of the same scenes is considered among the earliest cubist works--indeed, possibly the first. The earliest Braque painting in the University Art Museums' collection, the new acquisition is of particular scholarly interest as a link between Cézanne and subsequent cubist works by Picasso.

 

Government Affairs Guru

President Lawrence H. Summers has named Alan Stone vice president for government, community, and public affairs. Stone, a 1966 graduate of Miami University, got his law degree at George Washington University. He comes to Harvard from a comparable position at Columbia University, having previously worked as a legal-services lawyer; legislative director for a United States Senator; staff member for three congressional committees and for several nonprofit groups; and speechwriter for President Clinton.

 

Hospital Rx

Moving to shore up the fragile finances of an important research and teaching affiliate, Harvard Medical School has bought back Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's long-term leases for six floors of the Harvard Institutes of Medicine building in Boston. The transaction will give the medical school more flexibility to use the research space in the existing building and a new, larger one now rising alongside it (see "Brevia," September-October 2000, page 83). More urgently, the $100-million deal will enable BIDMC to pay down some of its long-term debt. The medical center has been losing tens of millions of dollars per year, threatening its survival ("Unhealthy Hospitals," March-April, page 29); unexpected losses this year and delays in garnering new funds led to the recent resignations of the chief executive and president, and a downgrade of its bonds to "junk" status.

 

Top-Tier Teacher

On November 8, the National Science Foundation will confer its first "director's awards for distinguished teaching scholars," recognizing scientists "whose research excellence has been shared" with students and the public. One of the seven initial recip-ients of the award is Eric Mazur, the McKay professor of applied physics and professor of physics (see "Newton, One-on-One," May-June 1995, page 18).

 

Harvard Student Health

A University Health Services (UHS) survey of Harvard undergraduate behaviors, and accompanying national data, suggest generally favorable conduct at the College relative to American undergraduates overall--although the norms might dismay some observers. The questionnaire, distributed to 2,500 Harvardians in the spring of 2000 and answered by 905, indicates that 72 percent of students had used alcohol within the past 30 days (slightly above the national average), and that more than 14 percent had smoked cigarettes (well below average, but alarming enough to prompt UHS to launch a smoking-cessation program). Some 31 percent of Harvard students reported engaging in sexual intercourse within the past 30 days, and 40 percent reported oral sexual contact--compared to 51 percent and 48 percent, respectively, for the national survey results. On measures of mental health, Harvard undergraduates' responses concerning the incidence of depression nearly matched the national sample, but with greater current use of therapy and medications among the Cambridge students. The survey results can be found at www.uhs.harvard.edu.

 

Nota Bene

Plus ça change. Exactly repeating its rankings from the prior year, U.S. News & World Report judged Princeton the nation's premier university, followed by Harvard and Yale (in a tie), Cal Tech, and MIT.

 

Narrative news. The Nieman Foundation, emphasizing the strengths of print, has established a program on narrative journalism. The director will be writer-in-residence Mark Kramer, formerly professor of journalism at Boston University, where he ran a similar in-itiative. For more information on the program, visit the foundation's website, www.nieman.harvard.edu.