Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard's Journal

Brevia

November-December 2011

William A. Graham

William A. Graham

Photograph by Justin Knight

Divinity Dean’s Denouement

Harvard Divinity School dean William A. Graham will step down at the end of this academic year, concluding a decade of service (he began serving as acting dean in January 2002). After a year’s leave, he will resume teaching as a Distinguished Service Professor. Graham, a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences since 1973, has been director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, master of Currier House, and chair of both the department of Near Eastern languages and civiliza- tions and the committee on the study of religion. His scholarly work focuses on early Islamic religious history and the history of world religion. More than half the school’s current faculty members were appointed during Graham’s deanship; he also oversaw revisions of the school’s degree programs.

 

Laureate Septet

Seven alumni have been honored with 2011 Nobel Prizes. Ralph M. Steinman, M.D. ’68, of Rockefeller University, shared the prize in physiology or medicine, for fundamental work on the immune system; tragically, he succumbed to pancreatic cancer on September 30, three days before the award was announced. Three cosmologists shared the physics prize for discoveries concerning the accelerating expansion of the universe, based on measurements using supernovae (exploding stars): Saul Perlmutter ’81, professor of physics at University of California, Berkeley; Brian P. Schmidt, Ph.D. ’93, of the Australian National University; and Adam G. Riess, Ph.D. ’96, professor of astronomy and physics at Johns Hopkins. Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, M.P.A. ’71, LL.D. ’11, shared the peace prize for her advocacy of women’s rights. And Thomas J. Sargent, Ph.D. ’68, of the Hoover Institution and Berkley professor of economics and business at NYU, and doctoral classmate Christopher A. Sims ’63, Ph.D. ’68, Helm professor of economics and banking at Princeton, shared the prize in economics

 

University Professors

President Drew Faust has appointed two University Professors, Harvard’s highest faculty rank. Rebecca M. Henderson, who joined Harvard Business School in 2009 and examines businesses, energy, and the environment, becomes McArthur University Professor (see Harvard Portrait), succeeding Nobel laureate Robert C. Merton, who retired in 2010. Stem-cell pioneer Douglas Melton (he co-chairs the department of stem cell and regenerative biology, and co-directs the Harvard Stem Cell Institute), the master of Eliot House, is the first Xander University Professor. The identity of the new chair’s donor has not been disclosed.

 

Dumbarton Oaks Domiciles

Fulfilling a long-term programmatic ambition, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, in Washington, D.C., has purchased a building near its existing campus in which it will be able to house its scholarly fellows who are pursuing studies in Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and garden and landscape studies (see “Home of the Humanities,” May-June 2008). Porter professor of Medieval Latin Jan Ziolkowski, who directs the center, says that the  Wisconsin Avenue building will be renovated and expanded; the roughly $21-million project will, consistent with the center’s mission, incorporate green design elements including vegetated walls, terraces, and surroundings. When finished, it will provide 25 apartments, plus social and exhibition spaces for the fellows—far better than the amenities now offered. Ziolkowski hopes the project will help enhance the fellowship programs, as well, reflecting new scholarly opportunities in all three areas of Dumbarton Oaks’ expertise, at a time when support for research in such humanistic fields is increasingly scarce. 

 

Library Overseer

Mary Lee Kennedy, formerly executive director of knowledge and library services at Harvard Business School (HBS), is now senior associate provost for the Harvard Library, to oversee the libraries’ transition to more coordinated operations, as recommended by the University Libraries task force last year (see “Unifying Harvard’s Libraries,”). She is responsible for strategy and policy; Harvard Library executive director Helen Shenton will report to her. As part of the new structure, the libraries are being grouped into five affinity groups, each of which will share services. 

 

On Other Campuses

Carnegie Mellon University trustee William S. Dietrich II, past president and chairman of Dietrich Industries, has pledged a $265-million gift to the school (effective upon his death)—about one-quarter of the current endowment. The funds, according to President Jared L. Conlon, enable discretionary spending that can be directed however the university thinks most important.

Dietrich, a Princeton alumnus, earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, where he chaired the board of trustees—to which he subsequently pledged $125 million.…The University of Chicago and that city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, in August signed a memorandum of understanding that will expedite public infrastructure investments in and regulatory approvals for university development in its Hyde Park neighborhood and environs; the agreement covers the university’s $1.7-billion capital plan for the next five years.…Yale began the new academic year by completing renovation of Ezra Stiles, the last of its dozen undergraduate residential houses to be refurbished during a 13-year-long effort that required an investment of a half-billion dollars, adjusted for inflation, according to the Yale Daily News. Separately, Yale agreed in September to host an Air Force ROTC on campus, joining the Naval ROTC unit that it had earlier announced would be based there. And it unveiled a $25-million gift to fund a multidisciplinary Energy Sciences Institute; the laboratory, and several new professors, will explore clean technologies and solar-based fuels.

 

Nota Bene

Middle eastern studies. The department of Near Eastern languages and civilizations has unveiled a secondary field in modern Middle Eastern studies, embracing humanities and social sciences, for undergraduates concentrating in other disciplines. It requires a gateway course, NEC 100, “Approaches to Middle Eastern Studies,” and four other half-courses. It had previously been available to graduate students.

 

BGLTQ staff and office. The College, adopting recommendations from a working group last spring, has appointed Lisa Forest as the first director of bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and questioning (BGLTQ) student life. Forest had been in a similar position at Bridgewater State University. Emily J. Miller, a member of the working group who is pursuing a master’s at the Divinity School, will be graduate assistant for BGLTQ student life. Offices and a lounge space for the group are being readied in Boylston Hall for  early next semester.

 

Tata on Track

Harvard Business School’s new executive-education building, Tata Hall—designed by William Rawn Associates and named for Ratan Tata, who attended the Advanced Management Program in 1975, and whose companies and philanthropic trusts made a $50-million naming gift in the fall of 2010—has been approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Located on the northeast corner of campus, by McArthur Hall and Soldiers Field Road, the $100-million facility will contain classrooms and residential space. Groundbreaking is planned in December, with occupancy in 2013.

Macarthur fellows. Three faculty members and two alumnae have been awarded $500,000, unrestricted MacArthur Foundation fellowships: Beren professor of economics Roland Fryer Jr., best known for work on school performance and reform; associate professor of physics Markus Greiner, who works with ultracold atoms; and professor of psychology Matthew Nock (whose work on suicide and self-injury was profiled in “A Tragedy and a Mystery,” January-February 2011, page 32); Jeanne Gang, M.Arch. ’93, founder of Studio Gang Architects, an acclaimed firm in Chicago; and University of Michigan historian Tiya Miles ’92, who has explored Afro-Indian communities in Colonial America. 

 

Miscellany. James H. Waldo, McKay professor of the practice of computer science, has been named Harvard’s chief technology officer; he will lead the creation of technology standards and practice and be responsible for the architecture and implementation of University systems. He was for many years distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems and also worked at Apollo Computer and VMWare.…Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) received a five-year, $10-million grant from the National Cancer Institute to explore the relationship between obesity and cancer; Penn, University of California, San Diego, and Washington University are undertaking similar work as part of the $45-million initiative. Professor of nutrition and epidemiology Frank Hu is principal investigator for the Harvard research (see “The Deadliest Sin,” March-April 2004, page 36, on his work on exercise and health). Separately, HSPH received a $12-million, five-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve maternal health in developing countries; professor of the practice of public health Ana Langer will direct the initiative.…David P. Davidson, interim leader of dining operations on campus since the departure of Ted Mayer last summer, has been named his successor as managing director of University dining services.…Acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma ’76, D.Mus. ’91, the principal guest performer at Harvard’s 375th anniversary celebration on October 14, has been named a 2011 Kennedy Center honoree. The ceremony is scheduled for December 4. Actress Meryl Streep, Ar.D. ’10, will also be honored.

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Smith Campus Center, one of the tangible results of The Harvard Campaign
Photograph by Jim Harrison

Harvard Campaign raises $9.62 billion

H. Luke Shaefer directs the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions—now partnering with Harvard to address economic mobility in Detroit.
Photograph courtesy of Poverty Solutions/University of Michigan

Harvard partners with the University of Michigan

From left, Presidents M. Roy Wilson, M.D. ’80, of Wayne State University and Lawrence S. Bacow of Harvard and Mary Kramer, director of the economic-development forum, speaking on higher education in Detroit on September 14.
Photograph by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Public Affairs and Communications

Harvard President Lawrence Bacow promotes Michigan initiatives