Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard's Journal

Brevia

March-April 2007

An Eye on Immigration

Photograph courtesy of Harvard University Art Museums © President and Fellows of Harvard College

Harvard University Library’s Open Collections Program has created “Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930,” a Web-based set of 1,800 books and pamphlets, 6,000 photographs, 200 maps, and 13,000 pages of manuscript and archival material. Drawing on published works as well as private ones, such as diaries, the collection makes visually rich material on immigration, especially during the nineteenth century, available worldwide. Among the images is this circa 1903 print of New York City arrivals writing a first letter home. The site also links users to other digital resources. See http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/immigration for access to the full archive.

 

Engineering Emerges

Concluding work begun last spring, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on December 12 approved the renaming of the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, recognizing it as a separate School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (see “Quantum Leap for Engineering,” July-August 2006, page 63). The school, with greater visibility, expects to be better able to recruit faculty and attract students. It will administer and finance itself, while still conducting admissions through the College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The Corporation and Board of Overseers approved the change in early February.

 

Sudan Stockholdings

In April 2005, responding to concerns about support for the government of Sudan during the war in Darfur, the Corporation instructed Harvard Management Company to divest shares of PetroChina, whose affiliated company is a close partner of the Sudanese government. That action, and subsequent divestiture from Sinopec, set off a national wave of academic institutions’ decisions not to invest in companies doing business in Sudan. In January, however, Crimson reporters Daniel J. Hemel and Paras D. Bhayani revealed that University investments in two funds managed by Barclays include stakes worth as much as $16 million in the two companies—a larger position than the direct holding divested earlier. The University declined official comment; the use of externally managed index and country funds (a common technique for making liquid investments in smaller markets) apparently raises issues not covered by most institutions’ social- investing policies.

 

More Capacious Colleges?

Should elite schools with large endowments and far more qualified applicants than they can accept enlarge their student bodies? Princeton is doing so, raising undergraduate enrollment from 4,700 to 5,200 during the next six years. Harvard’s Allston master plan (see "Harvard's 50Year Plan") makes provision for additional undergraduate Houses in a second stage of development, but no decision on proceeding is even near pending. Now, Yale president Richard C. Levin has floated the idea of expanding that college’s population by about 15 percent, raising class size from 1,300 to 1,500; a committee is studying the idea this semester, as Yale pursues a $3-billion capital campaign. Among smaller research universities, Rice is scaling up enrollment about 30 percent, and the University of Rochester is planning a one-quarter increase, according to Inside Higher Education.

 

Genetic Gains

 
Emily Berl / Harvard News Office
 
Dyann F. Wirth  
   

The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT (see “Bigger Biology,” November-December 2006, page 72) has received a $200-million grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute to examine links between cancer and genetics; other grants were made to Washington University School of Medicine and Baylor College of Medicine. Separately, Strong professor of infectious disease Dyann F. Wirth, of the Harvard School of Public Health, completed mapping genetic diversity in Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly of the four human malaria parasites. The work, done through the Broad Institute, is expected to have immediate application in detecting the emergence and spread of drug resistance.

 

Nota Bene

Salary savings. Following the annual release of university and college presidents’ compensation by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Marcella Bombardieri of the Boston Globe broke the news that Harvard’s interim president, Derek Bok, lured out of retirement to return to Massachusetts Hall, has chosen to do so without pay. “I just didn’t need the money,” Bok told the Globe. “I wasn’t doing this for compensation, but because the University needed help at a difficult time.” He had chosen not to disclose that decision until pressed by the newspaper.

Geriatric gains. Harvard Medical School faculty at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, an affiliated hospital, will expand and intensify training in care of geriatric patients through the Advancement of Geriatrics Education Project, funded by a $2-million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

 
Dominick Reuter / Harvard News Office
 
Linda Bilmes  
   

The war wounded. Kennedy School of Government lecturer in public policy Linda Bilmes has calculated that medical and mental-health care, counseling, and disability benefits for veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars may ultimately cost $700 billion, severely taxing the finances and capabilities of the Veterans Administration. Bilmes, coauthor of an earlier report on the total costs of the conflicts (see “The $2-Trillion War,” May-June 2006, page 12), cites the 1.4 million military personnel who have been deployed in the conflicts so far and the medical advances that have enabled many more casualties to survive their wounds or service-related injuries, compared to the rate of fatalities in earlier wars. See http://ksgnotes1.harvard.edu/Research/wpaper.nsf/rwp/RWP07-001.

Early-action Elis. Yale College will retain nonbinding “early action” admission for students, that university’s president, Richard C. Levin, disclosed in the January-February Yale Alumni Magazine. Harvard’s decision to abolish early admissions beginning this coming fall, announced last September, was swiftly followed by Princeton and the University of Virginia (see “Adios, Early Admissions,” November-December 2006, page 68). Levin said that students wanted the option, that Yale could use early and regular admissions to satisfy its desire to attract lower-income students, and that unless all schools changed their practices, abolition of early admissions by just a few elite institutions would create new problems.

Further financial aid. In a twist on the financial-aid enhancements aimed at lower-income students that Harvard launched in 2004, Emory University’s newly announced “Emory Advantage” eliminates need-based loans for undergraduates whose family income is under $50,000, beginning in the 2007-2008 academic year; families with income from $50,001 to $100,000 will see student loans for a four-year course of study capped at $15,000.

Cancer center. The Ludwig Fund has conferred $20 million, plus other assets available in the future, to support six Ludwig Centers focusing on aspects of cancer research. One is led by associate professor of medicine George D. Demetri, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, whose research and patient care were described in “Ken’s Story,” the cover article in the previous issue of this magazine.

The Stadium, Enbubbled

Photograph courtesy of Harvard Sports Information

In late January, after extensive assembly and preparation work, the pressurized bubble inside Harvard Stadium was inflated for the first time. It will be host to a wide variety of indoor athletic activities. 

Miscellany. The Kennedy School of Government, which has offered training services to the People’s Republic of China and other nations, began a new, three-year program for 360 senior civil servants from India. The first session, designed with the Indian Institute of Management Ahmadabad, took place in India in January.…The Harvard Graduate School of Education has launched a new multimedia website intended to bring faculty members’ research—in areas such as leadership and policy, and learning and development—to educators in the field. The Usable Knowledge site can be accessed at www.uknow.gse.harvard.edu. …Stanford University, citing limited funds available to humanities scholars, has announced plans to distribute $5,000 annually to each faculty member (junior and tenured) to help defray research-related expenses such as travel, purchase of materials, or hiring research assistants.…A controversial new analysis of doctoral programs, based on quantitative measurements of scholarly publishing, citations, awards, and grants, ranks Harvard at the top of major universities, ahead of California Institute of Technology, University of California at San Francisco, MIT, and Yale. The “faculty scholarly productivity index,” the Chronicle of Higher Education reported, was supported by State University of New York at Stony Brook and produced by Academic Analytics. Unlike the National Research Council rankings of doctoral programs (last updated in 1995), the new measure is not based on peer assessment of programs’ reputations.…Amid the continuing debate over women’s success—or lack thereof —in academic science careers, the American Psychological Association has published Why Aren’t More Women in Science? Top Researchers Debate the Evidence (www.apa.org), with 15 chapters by diverse contributors exploring a variety of issues involving possible differences in biology, personal obligations, and social and institutional factors.