Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard's Journal

Brevia

July-August 2004

Vanishing Visas

Post-9/11 delays in granting visas for foreign nationals intending to study in the United States have begun to inhibit the flow of talent to universities, particularly in the sciences. Applications are down by 10 percent or more at most of the major research institutions surveyed by the Association of American Universities. The pressure is most acute at graduate and upper levels; according to the National Science Foundation, 57 percent of postdoctoral research fellows in the U.S. are foreigners resident on temporary visas. Citing the risk of "losing some of our most talented scientists and compromising our country's position at the forefront of technological innovation," President Lawrence H. Summers in April wrote to Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge '67 and Secretary of State Colin Powell, LL.D. '93, to express concern. Each Harvard faculty reported "a sharp drop in applications from international students this year," he wrote, suggesting security pre-clearances, priority appointments for students, and other expedited procedures. Subsequent discussions and correspondence, Summers indicated, suggest willingness in Washington "to assure that the resources are adequate to accelerate this process" and to resolve regulatory obstacles, but "the devil is in the details." On May 12, a coalition of 25 higher-education and scientific groups, including the National Academy of Sciences, proposed changes in security clearances, visa renewals, and the priority given to long-pending applications, among other improvements, to ease the problems.

Revived

Photograph by Paula Carter, Harvard College Library Communications

The second floor of Widener Library reopened in May, its grand architectural features and elegant finishes restored, its spaces rearranged. Above, the Loker Reading Room, which previously housed the busy reference at one end and staff work areas at the other, is now quiet study space entirely. A person with a book may sink into an easy chair at either end of the room. The relatively bustling reference services are in an adjacent room. Elsewhere in the building, the Stacks Reading Room is a mirror likeness of the first reading room in the reclaimed lightcourt, which opened in 2001. Widener's exterior will get a facelift beginning this summer.

Phyliss J. Kanki
School of Public Health

Against AIDS in Africa

The School of Public Health has won a $107-million, five-year federal grant to deploy antiret-roviral therapy in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Botswana, and to build local capacities there to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS. The program — led by Phyllis J. Kanki, professor of immunology and infectious diseases, who also directs the Gates Foundation-funded AIDS prevention initiative in Nigeria — hopes to treat 75,000 people during its five-year term, and to create laboratories and care facilities.

 

Tougher Tiger Transcripts

As grades in Harvard College rise again (see "Brevia," May-June, page 75), Princeton has taken a sterner tack. At a meeting in April, the faculty enacted legislation calling for an "expectation" that departments and programs will award A-range grades for only 35 percent of the marks in undergraduate courses, and no more than 55 percent for junior and senior independent work. An elected faculty committee will monitor compliance. Harvard awarded A-range scores for 47.8 percent of all course marks recorded in the 2002-2003 academic year. President Lawrence H. Summers said the issue "continues to concern me" and suggested that he would like it to be revisited, but that curriculum reform was a higher priority.

 

Nota Bene

National academicians. Five faculty members were elected to the National Academy of Sciences: Lawrence D. Bobo, Tishman and Diker professor of sociology and of African and African American studies; Harvard College dean Benedict H. Gross, Leverett professor of mathematics; Mark T. Keating, professor of cell biology and pediatrics; Charles M. Lieber, Hyman professor of chemistry; and John T. Potts Jr., Jackson Distinguished Professor of clinical medicine. Cook professor of radiation oncology Rakesh K. Jain was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Lawrence D. Bobo Benedict H. Gross Mark T. Keating
Courtesy Lawrence D. Bobo Courtesy Benedict H. Gross Courtesy Mark T. Keating
Charles M. Lieber Rakesh K. Jain
Kris Snibbe / Harvard News Office Steve Gilbert

Capital computing. Having rebuilt its basic human-resources and administrative data systems during the past several years, the University is now upgrading and centralizing its alumni affairs and development systems, in preparation for the forthcoming capital campaign (see "Development Doyenne," January-February 2004, page 68). The donor database, expected to bring together information maintained in separate systems operated by Harvard's schools, will be created by SunGard BSR, a vendor of fundraising software for nonprofit institutions, under a multiyear contract expected to involve central and school costs of $20 million or more.

 

Charles R. Alcock
Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Stars star. Assuming both administrative and scientific duties, Charles R. Alcock becomes director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, as well as of the Harvard College Observatory on August 1, when he is also appointed professor of astronomy. He moves to Harvard from the University of Pennsylvania, where his research has focused on the search for "dark matter" in the universe. As administrator, he succeeds Timken University Professor Irwin Shapiro, CfA's director since 1983.

Campaign capitalist. Sarofim-Rock professor of business administration Howard H. Stevenson has been appointed senior associate provost for planning and resources — intended as a key role in strategy, communications, marketing, and major donor outreach for the emerging University capital campaign. At the Business School, where he spearheaded entrepreneurial studies, and so trained a generation of new business leaders and venture capitalists, Stevenson has served as senior associate dean for external relations, the chief architect of the fundraising effort under way there; although not scheduled to conclude until December 2005, the drive has nearly met its $500-million goal.

 

Wayward press. H Bomb Magazine, promising a student slant on sexuality and erotica, debuted in the last week of May, as exams ended (see "Brevia," May-June, page 75, and www.h-bomb.org). For once, a publication was preceded (by a few weeks) by its Lampoon parody. The magazine has semi-mainstream aspirations: after the initial issue's features on condoms and cerebral Internet hookups ("the dating narrative"), plus photographs, the editors invite readers to "comp our staff, submit work, and...pose."

Guggenheim grantees. John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellows for 2004 include Friedman professor of law Lucian A. Bebchuk (corporate governance and power); McKay professor of applied mathematics and applied physics Michael P. Brenner (mathematical models in developmental biology); Lindsley professor of psychology Stephen M. Kosslyn (mental imagery); Robert A. LeVine, Larsen professor of education and human development emeritus (anthropology of parenting); and Curtis T. McMullen, Cabot professor of natural sciences (mathematical dynamics).

Michael P. Bremmer Stephen M. Kosslyn Curtis T. McMullen
Courtesy Lawrence D. Bobo Jon Chase / Harvard News Office Courtesy Curtis T. McMullen

Rank order. In its annual professional-school beauty contest, U.S. News & World Report ranked Harvard's as the best business school (just ahead of Stanford); tied for best in education (with Stanford); second in law (behind Yale); best for training in medical research (University of Washington ranked first for primary-care training); and second in public affairs and government (behind Syracuse).

 

Daniel L. Golden
Courtesy Daniel L. Golden

Pulitzer people. Among the winners of Pulitzer Prizes this year were Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel L. Golden '78, for a series on "white affirm- ative action" (i.e., legacy admissions to elite univer-sities and colleges); Paul Moravec Jr. '79, now head of the music department at Adelphi University, for his composition "Tempest Fantasy"; and Amherst political scientist William C. Taubman '62, for his biography Khrushchev. (Harvard University Press published the winning history entry, A Nation under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration, by Steven Hahn of the University of Pennsylvania.)

 

International alumni. In keeping with the University's global outreach efforts, the Harvard Alumni Association has created an office of international alumni affairs, directed by Kate Ryan; it will work with the more than 35,000 alumni who live outside the United States.

 

Top teachers. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences members who were recognized for their excellence in teaching with five-year appointments as Harvard College Professor are Emmanuel K. Akyeampong, professor of history; Anne Harrington, professor of the history of science; Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, professor of history of art and architecture; and Robert P. Kirshner, Clowes professor of science and master of Quincy House. Separately, the Undergraduate Council conferred its Levenson Teaching Prizes on Mallinckrodt professor of physics Howard Georgi, master of Leverett House (now a two-time winner); John Boller, preceptor in mathematics and in continuing education and University Extension; and Bryan Chang, teaching fellow in chemistry and in chemical biology. The Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Awards for supporting graduate students went to professor of Slavic languages and literatures Julie A. Buckler; associate professor of medicine James DeCaprio; and Knafel professor of music Thomas F. Kelly.

 

Dreamy science. The Medical School, which established a division of sleep medicine in 1997, has received simultaneous gifts to establish three endowed chairs in the field. Charles A. Czeisler, who studies circadian rhythms and directs the divison, was named Frank Baldino Jr. Ph.D. professor of sleep medicine, a new chair recognizing the chairman and chief executive officer of Cephalon Inc. The McGinnis professorship was established by the Respironics Sleep and Respiratory Research Foundation to honor company founder Gerald E. McGinnis; associate professor David P. White will hold the chair. The Peter C. Farrell professorship, established by a gift from the chairman and chief executive of ResMed Incorporated, has not yet been filled.

Centered. The new faculty director of the Center for the Environment will be professor of earth and planetary sciences Daniel P. Schrag, who succeeds Michael B. McElroy, Butler professor of environmental studies. Separately, Climenko professor of law Charles J. Ogletree Jr. will direct the law school's new Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice; its name recognizes Houston, the 1922 graduate (and the Harvard Law Review's first African-American editor) who spearheaded the litigation in Brown v. Board of Education.

Daniel P. Schrag Charles J. Ogletree Jr.
Courtesy Daniel P. Schrag Justin Ide / Harvard News Office

Moving on. A relatively small class of Arts and Sciences faculty members retired from teaching at year end. Four became emeriti: professor of biology Kenneth J. Boss; Mason professor of music Mario Davidovsky; professor of linguistics Susumu Kuno; and professor of Chinese literature Leo Ou-Fan Lee. Those choosing the "research professor" title for their senior status were Bickford professor of Indian and South Asian art Pramod Chandra; Henderson professor of anthropology David H. Maybury-Lewis; and professor of astronomy Robert W. Noyes.

 

AAAS fellows. New fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences include Thompson professor of government James E. Alt; Mario Davidovsky, Mason professor of music emeritus; professor of molecular and cellular biology Catherine Dulac; Higgins professor of natural sciences Barbara J. Grosz; provost Steven E. Hyman; Emery professor of chemistry Eric N. Jacobsen; Story professor of law Daniel J. Meltzer; professor of physics Lisa Randall; Clark professor of ethics in politics and government Nancy L. Rosenblum; and curator of comparative ethnology Rubie S. Watson.

James E. Alt Catherine Dulac Lisa Randall
Courtesy James E. Alt Courtesy Catherine Dulac Tracy Powell
Lindsay Hyde
Courtesy Lindsay Hyde

Miscellany. The Harvard College Women's Leadership Awards were conferred on Hanna Holborn Gray, Ph.D. '57, a member of the Corporation and president emerita of the University of Chicago, and Lindsay Hyde '04, who is the founder of Strong Women, Strong Girls, a mentoring program linking College women with Boston girls....The new executive director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies is David Kupferschmidt; previously he worked at the United Nations, European Commission, and consultancies throughout Latin America....Cambridge University Press has begun publishing the biannual DuBois Review: Social Science Research on Race, edited by Lawrence D. Bobo, Tishman and Diker professor of sociology and of African and African American studies, and Michael C. Dawson, professor of government. The advisory board includes several other faculty members and reflects the rise of social sciences in African-American studies on campus and elsewhere.... Linda J. Greenhouse '68, long-time Supreme Court reporter for the New York Times, received the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism at the Kennedy School on March 17....Radcliffe Institute dean Drew Gilpin Faust, an historian, has been elected to the American Philosophical Society. 

Bridged No More

This is how the connector between the Widener Library stacks and the Houghton Library reading room — a "temporary" walkway built in 1942 — looked in mid March during its demolition. Now bridge and snow are gone.