Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard's Journal

Brevia

November-December 2007

2+2 = M.B.A.

Harvard Business School (HBS) has launched a deferred-admissions program for future M.B.A. candidates, aiming to attract liberal-arts majors in science, government, or other fields who might not have considered such a degree. Undergraduates will be able to apply by July 1, following completion of the junior year (with admission decisions by September), for enrollment after their graduation and two years of approved work experience. Google, Teach for America, and other recruiting partners will provide supervised jobs, helping HBS assure that the future students receive appropriate placements; they will also participate in summer academic programs on campus. HBS envisions its “2+2” enrollees accounting for 5 to 10 percent of entering class members, who number about 900 (most of whom arrive after more extended work). The initiative is like those adopted by some other business schools; it may help attract students with more diverse backgrounds and academic training—a growing priority for many employers. Applications to HBS for the M.B.A. totaled 10,382 in 2002, but declined thereafter to 6,559 in 2005 and 6,716 in 2006, according to the school’s latest annual report.

Baker Re-Belled

Photograph by Neal Hamberg / Harvard Business School

Eighteen pre-Russian Revolution bells are being returned from Harvard to St. Danilov Monastery, spiritual home of the Russian  Orthodox Church, in  exhange for replicas.  Patriarch Alexy II  consecrated the replicas in Moscow on July 24. The swap began on  August 15 with the  installation of a  “Centennial Bell” at Harvard Business School’s Baker Library. The new bell, cast in southwestern Russia, commemorates the school’s founding in 1908, and features  images of the library, the monastery, and  a Fabergé egg nestled in ivy. The original  bell returned to Russia on September 12. The bells were purchased in 1930 by U.S. millionaire Charles Crane to save them from being melted down for ammunition, and donated for installation at Baker and in Lowell House’s bell tower; those 17 bells are to be exchanged next summer (see The College Pump, November-December 2006, page 88). Russian oil magnate Viktor Vekselberg is underwriting the work.


…Another Deanship

Ford professor of human evolution David Pilbeam—last seen as interim dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) in the spring, when Jeremy R. Knowles stepped aside for health reasons—will now serve as dean of Harvard College, on an interim basis. He succeeds Benedict H. Gross, whose service ended August 31 (see "Brevia," September-October, page 69). Pilbeam has previously assumed responsibilities involving undergraduate education, reform of the general-education curriculum, and oversight of the concentrations. FAS dean Michael D. Smith announced the appointment in mid August; he is convening faculty and student committees to advise on the search for a permanent College leader.


Research Revamped

Photograph courtesy of Edward M. Scolnick

Edward M. Scolnick

Seeking to progress beyond traditional means of tackling hard problems, the National Institutes of  Health funded nine interdisciplinary research consortia; each will receive $21 million to $25 million during the next five years. Two are based within Harvard Medical School and its affiliated hospitals: the systems-based consortium for organ design and engineering, directed by professor of medicine Richard L. Maas, which aims to grow heart valves and pancreas and tooth tissue; and the genomic-based drug discovery effort, directed by senior lecturer on genetics Edward M. Scolnick, director of the psychiatry initiative at the Broad Institute. Each consortium is intended to break down the departmental boundaries that persist even in multidisciplinary research projects.


Economics Evolution

Baker professor of economics Martin S. Feldstein will step down from the presidency of the National Bureau of Economic Research (www.nber.org), the pre-eminent nonprofit research organization in the field, next June. He became president in 1977 and has served continuously, except during his stint as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Ronald Reagan. Beyond promoting research by hundreds of fellows throughout the profession, Feldstein made formal the bureau’s role in dating periods of economic growth and recession.


Nota Bene

Art acquisition. The Harvard University Art Museums’ center for the technical study of modern art received a gift of abstract expressionist Barnett Newman’s studio materials—brushes, paints, sketches, models of sculpture, etc. The materials will be used for teaching and research, along with other  museum holdings of pigments and related resources important to conservation and art-historical studies.

Photograph by John Chase / Harvard News Office

Catherine Dulac

Neural network. Higgins professor of molecular and cellular biology Catherine Dulac, chair of the department, has been appointed to the new scientific advisory board of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, in Seattle (www.alleninstitute.org); she has been a member of the advisory board for the institute’s “brain atlas,” which has been mapping the mouse brain genome. Johnstone Family professor of psychology Steven Pinker is an institute adviser.

Bigger student bodies? With the constuction of new undergraduate residences, Princeton is expanding its student body. Yale president Richard Levin is approaching a decision on accommodating 200 additional students per entering class (currently 1,325 per year, versus Harvard College’s 1,640). And now Stanford president John Hennessy, writing in that university’s alumni magazine, suggests that “expanding the size of the undergraduate population would be both a practical and principled response to current realities”—namely, the tremendous growth in qualified applicants. Stanford’s undergraduate enrollment today slightly exceeds Harvard’s.

Expos exit. Sosland director of expository writing Nancy Sommers—who both taught in the required freshman “Expos” course and oversaw it for more than a decade—abruptly left her position during the summer, apparently involuntarily. Expos is overseen by a faculty committee on writing and speaking, but is separate from any academic department and reports administratively to the Harvard College dean’s office. During revision of the College curriculum, the role of instruction in writing and public speaking was studied, but no proposal to modify the existing program was brought forward or legislated.

Cadet Commander

Photograph courtesy of Captain David Gowel

Danielle Williams ’08, shown here at a training  exercise with a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, is the fall cadet commander  for the seven-school ROTC program (Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Wellesley, Salem State, Gordon, Endicott) based at MIT. On September 19, as a recruiting event, the program arranged for Black Hawk and Huey helicopters to land at MIT’s Briggs Field. Fifteen Harvard students are training in the program. A colleague—MIT junior Stephen Petraeus, son of the U.S. commander in Iraq—may offer unusual insight into contemporary military service.

 

Photograph by Jim Harrison

Black Hawk and Huey helicopters landing at MIT's Briggs Field


Frequent fliers. The husband-and-wife academic couple of sociologist Lawrence D. Bobo and Marcyliena Morgan—a linguistic anthropologist who studies hip-hop culture—are returning to Harvard with tenured positions in the department of African and African American studies. They departed for Stanford in 2005, when Morgan’s bid for tenure was denied. As before, Bobo (see Harvard Portrait, March-April 1998, page 65) will hold a joint appointment in sociology.

Photograph courtesy of Constance Hale

Constance Hale

Photograph courtesy of Nancy Andrews

Nancy Andrews

Miscellany. As he was assuming the Harvard Medical School deanship, Jeffrey S. Flier and his wife and laboratory collaborator, Eleftheria Maratos-Flier, were on press with the article “What Fuels Fat,” in the September Scientific American , a special issue on diet, health, and the food supply. The c0authors, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, are identified as experts in the physiology of obesity and diabetes.…Minot professor of pediatrics Nancy C. Andrews, M.D. ’87, a pediatric oncologist and dean for basic sciences and graduate studies at Harvard Medical School, became dean of Duke University School of Medicine on October 1, making her the first woman to lead one of the top-10 medical schools in common public rankings.…The Nieman Foundation’s program on narrative journalism is now directed by Constance Hale, formerly a reporter and editor at Oakland and San Francisco newspapers and at Wired and Health magazines; she succeeds program founder Mark Kramer.… U.S. News & World Report ranked Princeton first and Harvard second in its annual beauty contest for national universities, reprising its 2006 listings.…The director of the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics, former New Hampshire governor Jeanne Shaheen, resigned on September 14 to campaign for a U.S. Senate seat from that state; she was succeeded for the academic year by James A. Leach, a former Republican congressman from Iowa.…Princeton reported that its policy to limit A-range grades (to 35 percent of undergraduate marks and 55 percent of grades for junior and senior independent work), adopted in 2004, had brought such marks down to 40.6 percent of the total for undergraduate courses in the 2004-2007 academic years, from 47 percent in the prior three years; evaluation of grading for upper-level independent work is forthcoming.…Of the 41 National Institutes of Health “pioneer award” and “new innovator” grants announced in September (conferring $2.5 million and $1.5 million, respectively) for high-risk, high-reward research, nine went to members of Harvard faculties and affiliated hospitals; see www.nih.gov/news/pr/sep2007/od-18a.htm.