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Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard's Journal

Brevia

May-June 2007

Top Billing for Two Bills

 
Kristie Bull / Associated Press
William H. Gates III
   
 
Charlie Riedel / Associated Press
 
William J. Clinton  
   

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton will be the class of 2007’s Class Day speaker on June 6. Of late he has worked on problems such as HIV/AIDS through the William J. Clinton Foundation. William H. Gates III ’77, co-founder and chairman of Microsoft, the world’s biggest software company, and co-founder with his wife, Melinda, of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest philanthropic foundation, will be the Harvard Alumni Association’s guest speaker at the Commencement afternoon exercises on June 7. For Gates, who famously left the College before graduating, the occasion will meld a thirtieth reunion (moved forward from the fall) with the opportunity to receive an honorary Harvard degree.

 

GSAS Dean Steps Down

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences dean Theda Skocpol disclosed on March 26 her decision to relinquish the post at the end of the academic year, concluding a brief (two years) but productive term. Skocpol prompted departments to adapt a range of practices that promote swifter, more successful graduate study. She established a Graduate Policy Committee to set standards across the school and to review each graduate program, many of which now involve other Harvard schools. And she chaired the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Task Force on Teaching and Career Development, which has inspired debate on pedagogy throughout FAS (see “Toward Top-Tier Teaching,” March-April, page 63).

 
Photo by Martha Stewart
Theda Skocpol
   

In the letter announcing her decision, Skocpol, who is Thomas professor of government and sociology, noted that when she was appointed, “many observers claimed that the University had bogged down.” But as dean, “[T]his has not been my experience at all…I have had the joy of seeing Harvard work effectively, even as ‘one university,’ in many key ways.” President Derek Bok praised her for doing a “truly remarkable job.” President-elect Drew Gilpin Faust, expressing regret at Skocpol’s decision, said she hoped to “benefit from her ideas and her thoughtful counsel going forward.” FAS dean Jeremy R. Knowles, whose successor will select the new GSAS dean, lamented Skocpol’s “unwelcome news,” and lauded her “zeal” for data, her outreach, and “her gently unambiguous approach” for improving graduate programs and policies across the board.

 

Engineering a Shield

The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard’s newest school, has unveiled its official seal, with three bows to history. The traditional “Veritas” appears at top; the horizontal chain stitch just below honors Gordon McKay, whose machinery for sewing shoes led to the fortune that ultimately endowed much of the current school’s faculty; and the body is the coat of arms of the Lawrence family, recognizing donor Abbott Lawrence, for whom the University’s former Lawrence Scientific School was named.

 


Overseers Evolution

 
Harvard News Office
Frances D. Fergusson
   

Frances D. Fergusson ’66, Ph.D. ’73, president emerita and professor of art at Vassar College, has been elected president of the Board of Overseers for 2007-2008. William F. Lee ’72, co-managing partner of the WilmerHale law firm, will be vice chair of the executive committee. They succeed Susan L. Graham ’64 and Paul Buttenwieser ’60, M.D. ’64. Along with Graham, Fergusson and Lee also served on the search committee that selected Drew Gilpin Faust as Harvard’s twenty-eighth president. Fergusson and the Senior Fellow of the Harvard Corporation, James R. Houghton, will preside at Faust’s installation on October 12.

 

The College: Who’s Coming, at What Cost

The College received a record 22,955 applications for the class of 2011, and offered admission to 2,058, just 9 percent, another new low. When they enroll next fall, those students and their College peers will face term bills of $45,620 for tuition, room, and board for the 2007-2008 academic year, an increase of $1,965, or 4.5 percent, from the current $43,655. Both the absolute increase and the rate of change are slightly lower than last year’s fee increases ($1,980, or 4.75 percent above the cost in 2005-2006). Tuition alone will increase 3.9 percent, to $31,456. Need-based scholarship aid will total $103 million, an increase of 6.8 percent.

 

Nota Bene

 
Photo by Stuart Cahill
Michael Porter
   

Petrostate strategist. Lawrence University Professor Michael Porter, perhaps the world’s preeminent corporate strategist, is advising the government of Libya on economic reform. Monitor Group, the consulting firm he founded, is focusing on energy, tourism, and other industries. Other consulting firms are addressing financial reform. Porter was quoted as saying that the country “pretty much needs universal reform” after years of Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi’s leadership.

 

 
Kris Snibbe / Harvard News Office
 
Joseph L. Badaracco  
 
Kris Snibbe / Harvard News Office  
Patricia O’Brien  
   

Currier service concludes. Joseph L. Badaracco Jr., Shad professor of business ethics, and Patricia O’Brien, former deputy dean of Harvard College, have announced that they will relinquish their duties as master and co-master of Currier House at the end of the academic year. They assumed leadership of the House in 2003.

 

Assessment advances. Continuing research aimed at assessing students’ learning, President Derek Bok has provided funds for a voluntary examination to compare the current writing skill of freshmen, sophomores, and juniors to the level of proficiency demonstrated on their initial writing placement tests when they enrolled. Seniors were offered the opportunity to take the Collegiate Learning Assessment, which measures critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and writing. (See “Curriculum, Classroom, Competence,” January-February, page 62.)

 

Electronic extension. Harvard Extension School courses can be previewed via Apple’s iTunesU, where 10- to 15-minute video clips of several distance-education courses are available. Audios of complete introductory lectures are also available.

 
Stephanie Mitchell / Harvard News Office
Roland G. Fryer
 
 
Justin Ide / Harvard News Office
  Rachel Wilson
   

 

Promising (junior) professors. Of the 116 Sloan Research Fellowships distributed for 2007 to support the work of young academics with “outstanding promise,” six went to Harvard scholars: economists Pol Antras, Roland G. Fryer Jr., and Aleh Tsyvinski; and physicist Markus Greiner, bioengineer Maurice Smith, and neurobiologist Rachel Wilson. Each two-year fellowship carries a $45,000 award.

 

Major mentors. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences student council conferred Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Awards on three faculty members: professor of health policy and management Robert J. Blendon; Jayne professor of government and professor of African and African American studies Jennifer L. Hochschild; and associate professor of medicine Raghu Kalluri.

 

Miscellany. Kenan professor of government Harvey C. Mansfield has been chosen to deliver the annual Jefferson Lecture in the humanities, the highest federal honor in the field. The lecture, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, is scheduled for May 8.…Catherine Hutchison Winnie, daughter of former Winthrop House master and co-master William Hutchison (now deceased) and Virginia Quay Hutchison, has been appointed director of the Office of International Programs, the focal point for undergraduates’ study-abroad and international internship activities.…The Stanley Medical Research Institute has made a $100-million gift to support 10 years of psychiatric research—focusing on schizophrenia and bipolar disorder—at the Broad Institute, the genomics center operated by Harvard and MIT.…Harvard Medical School and its principal affiliated hospitals have agreed to boost to $100 per hour the fee paid to physicians for their teaching time, hoping to engage more clinical faculty with students; some have been paid as little as $30 per hour for teaching, discouraging them from fulfilling academic obligations.… Harvard Business School’s annual financial report for fiscal 2006 (www.hbs.edu/about/annualreport/index.html) reveals robust revenue growth—up 11.2 percent, to $368 million—propelled by gains in M.B.A. and executive-education tuition, strong sales growth in the publishing operations, and growing endowment income. As a result, the school boosted expenses even more rapidly, after several years of relative constraint.…Pusey professor of neurobiology Carla J. Shatz, head of Harvard Medical School’s department of neurobiology and a leading figure in promoting interdisciplinary science at the University, is returning to Stanford to direct the collaborative Bio-X program; her research was described in “Brainy Women” (May-June 2002, page 36).…A consortium of nine medical-research institutions, including Harvard, issued a report calling for renewed growth in biomedical research funding, lest promising work be stalled (see “Within Our Grasp—Or Slipping Away?” at http://hms.harvard.edu/public/news/nih_funding.pdf).…Ramsey professor of political economy Richard J. Zeckhauser, playing with full-time bridge player Mildred Breed, of Austin, Texas, captured the North American mixed-pairs bridge championship in St. Louis in March; his last championship came in 1966. This victory came after 104 hands.

 

Legal Largesse

Courtesy of Harvard Law School

Bruce J. Wasserstein, J.D. ’70, M.B.A. ’71, chief executive of the Lazard investment banking firm, and the Wasserstein family have given $25 million to Harvard Law School to support construction of the academic wing of the school’s new 250,000-square-foot building (see “Legal Legroom,” January-February, page 61). To recognize the gift, the second largest in school history, the wing will be named Wasserstein Hall. Work has begun to move historic buildings from the site; full construction is scheduled to begin this summer. Construction costs alone for the entire project are estimated at $148 million, with additional expenses to relocate and reconfigure facilities now on or adjacent to the site.