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John Harvard's Journal

Brevia

March-April 2010

Lino Pertile

Lino Pertile

Photograph by Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office


Photographs courtesy of Villa I Tatti


Photographs courtesy of Villa I Tatti


Photographs courtesy of Villa I Tatti

I Tatti’s Leadership Transition

Dante scholar Lino Pertile—Pescosolido professor of Romance languages and literatures, and the retiring Eliot House master—has been appointed director of Villa I Tatti, the University’s Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, in Florence. He will succeed Joseph Connors, professor of history of art and architecture, director since 2002, who steps down this summer to return to teaching. Last October, a symposium honored the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Bernard Berenson, A.B. 1887, the connoisseur and collector who established the center at the villa; at that time, a million-dollar renovation of the 1950s annex of the Biblioteca Berenson was formally dedicated. The completed work, shown above right, corrected problems in the building systems and provided new shelving and study spaces for visiting scholars. The project entailed moving 120,000 volumes.

 

Supreme Court of the United States

David H. Souter

The Honorable Speaker

The principal speaker at the afternoon exercises on Commencement day, May 27, will be the Honorable David H. Souter ’61, LL.B. ’66, who was appointed an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court by President George H. W. Bush in 1990 and retired last June. Between his College and Law School years Souter studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.

 

Understanding Indonesia

The Harvard Kennedy School has received a two-part, $20.5-million gift from the charitable foundation of PT Rajawali Corporation, an Indonesian business conglomerate, to endow the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia and an Indonesia program within it. The initiatives will coordinate policy research, fellowships, executive education, and exchanges in Asia—models already developed for programs focused on China and Vietnam by Daewoo professor of international affairs Anthony Saich, who will oversee the new entities—and launch similar efforts focused on Indonesia. The Harvard Worldwide website lists a modest number of faculty members and research projects touching on the huge island nation today; the Harvard Institute for International Development (now defunct) used to have a significant field and advisory presence there. With the new resources, Saich foresees a significantly greater academic program in southeastern Asia.

 

Hospitals’ Conflicts Policy

As an outcome of their continuing review of conflict-of-interest policies governing Harvard Medical School personnel and researchers at its affiliated hospitals, the two largest of the latter—Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s—have decided that senior executives and high-ranking physicians can no longer receive stock or very large fees for serving on the boards of biotechnology or drug companies. The policy, covering perhaps two dozen senior managers and clinical department heads, now limits their compensation to an hourly rate ($500, or $5,000 per typical day) for duties associated with serving on corporate boards. Director compensation at major corporations can reach six-figure annual sums.

 

Mather Masters to Depart

Sandra Naddaff and Leigh Hafrey announced in December that they would step down as master and co-master of Mather House at the end of this academic year. They follow their Eliot and Cabot House peers, who are also relinquishing their positions (see Brevia, January-February, page 49). Naddaff—who directs the freshman seminar program and is director of studies in the literature concentration—and Hafrey are the College’s most senior master and co-master, having served since 1993. 

Art Advisers

Photograph by Webb Chappell

Robin Kelsey

President Drew Faust has established the Harvard University Committee on the Arts, a 31-member body that will advise her and the provost on ways to enhance the presence of the arts in the community. Its formation was recommended in the December 2008 report of the Task Force on the Arts (see “A Vision for the Arts,” March-April 2008, page 45). Burden professor of photography Robin Kelsey chairs the committee; he was profiled in the January-February 2009 magazine. “I am honored to be asked by President Faust to work with the committee’s distinguished members to find ways to encourage artistic experimentation and collaboration on our campus,” Kelsey said. Among the other members of the committee are Cogan University Professor Stephen Greenblatt, who chaired the prior task force; the dean of Harvard College, Evelynn Hammonds; Hobbs professor of cognition and education Howard Gardner; and Federico Cortese, music director of the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra.

 

Academic Appointments AWOL

In the wake of declining endowments and financial pressures throughout higher education, the academic job market appears to be contracting sharply. At its winter meeting, the Modern Language Association forecast a 35 percent reduction in postings for positions in English language and literature, and a 39 percent drop for those in other languages—bringing the two-year decline to more than 50 percent for both categories. The American Historical Association forecast a 24 percent decline in listings—a figure expected to worsen as searches are called off. And the American Economic Association reported a 19 percent decline in academic job listings during calendar year 2009, and a 24 percent decline for positions outside of the academy. 

 

Endowment Manager Pay: On Deck

Harvard Management Company’s annual report of the compensation awarded to its five highest-paid staff members, typically released in December, has been delayed this year. To conform to the University’s schedule for filing its tax returns, required of nonprofit organizations, the HMC disclosures are now expected in May. The result will be the disclosure of money managers’ salaries and bonuses for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2009 (when investment returns on assets were negative 27.3 percent, driving the $11-billion decline in the endowment’s value) nearly at the end of fiscal year 2010. By then, Harvard and other investors can hope for sharply better results.

 

Remembering Samuel Huntington

Photograph by Peter Lauth/World Economic Forum/swiss-image.ch

The late Weatherhead University Professor and public servant—the author of The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations and The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, among other books, who died December 24, 2008—is being honored by a graduate-student fellowship fund. A committee chaired by Peter L. Malkin ’55, J.D. ’58, and Geyser University Professor emeritus Henry Rosovsky (and including such prominent Harvard international-relations figures as Zbigniew K. Brzezinski, Jorge I. Domínguez, Henry Kissinger, Joseph S. Nye, Robert D. Putnam, James R. Schlesinger, Lawrence H. Summers, Fareed R. Zakaria, and others), has raised nearly $1 million so far. Malkin remembered meeting Huntington, his Government 1 “section man,” as a freshman in 1951—the start of a lifelong friendship. The inspiration for supporting graduate students working in international relations and political science, Malkin said, came from a discovery among Huntington’s papers: a notebook detailing his outlays for every meal and cup of coffee during his own penny-pinched graduate education.

 

Nota Bene

Admissions angst. Applications for admission to Harvard College rose nearly 5 percent, to an estimated 30,500, from 29,114 last year; applications rose 19 percent at Princeton and 20 percent at Brown, but declined 1 percent at Yale. Some observers attribute the general increase in application volumes to families’ need to shop for competitive financial-aid offers. Separately, the College resumed accepting a very limited number of transfer students for next fall, after a two-year suspension because of limited housing.

 

Courtesy of Jennifer Leaning

Jennifer Leaning

Kris Snibbe/HNO

Helen Molesworth

Miscellany. Jennifer Leaning, who has hands-on experience in humanitarian relief and public-health crises, has been appointed director of the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, based at the Harvard School of Public Health. She succeeds Jim Yong Kim, now president of Dartmouth.…Houghton curator of contemporary art Helen Molesworth, who most recently assembled the exhibition of ACT UP graphic material at the Carpenter Center (see “From AIDS to Art,” November-December 2009, page 40), has been hired away to serve as chief curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, in Boston.…Harvard Management Company (HMC) has appointed Neil Mason—previously of FRM Capital Advisors, BlueCrest Capital Management, Bank of America, and JP Morgan—as chief risk officer; HMC invests the University’s endowment and other financial assets.…Hasty Pudding Theatricals named actress Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada) as its Woman of the Year. Singer Justin Timberlake was recognized as Man of the Year on February 5, before the premiere of the 162nd production, Commie Dearest.…Harvard College has appointed D.E. Lorraine Sterritt dean for administration; a former assistant dean of freshmen (1996-2000), she had since held student-services and academic positions at Penn and Stanford.…The Carlos Slim Health Institute, founded three years ago by the Mexico City-based telecommunications executive, has pledged $65 million for research on cancer, type-2 diabetes, and kidney disease at the Broad Institute (the MIT-Harvard genomics center) and Mexico’s National Institute of Genomic Medicine.