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Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard's Journal

Brevia

May-June 2012

Allan M. Brandt, dean of GSAS, stepped down in mid February.

Allan M. Brandt, dean of GSAS, stepped down in mid February.

Photograph by Jon Chase/Harvard News Office

Decanal Departure

Allan M. Brandt, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) since January 2008, stepped down in mid February to address a health issue requiring immediate treatment, according to an announcement by Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean Michael D. Smith. During the financial crisis, Brandt reduced admissions while sustaining stipends for students already enrolled and those entering Harvard. He also pioneered a teaching-training program (students work with professors to create new undergraduate general education courses and then serve as teaching fellows for the classes), and made significant progress in diversifying GSAS admissions. Richard J. Tarrant, Pope professor of the Latin language and literature, is serving as interim dean while Smith launches a search for Brandt’s successor. For a full report, see www.harvardmag.com/brandt.

College Costs, Admissions

The Harvard College term bill for next academic year will be $54,496—up $1,844 (3.5 percent) from 2011-2012. Undergraduate financial aid will be budgeted at $172 million, an increase of $6 million. Separately, the College admitted 2,032 prospective freshmen to the class of 2016, entering this August—5.9 percent of 34,302 applicants. (The admissions rate last year was 6.2 percent, with 2,158 offers of admission extended to 34,950 applicants.) The lower rate (despite fewer applicants) reflects the effect of early-action admissions; those candidates who were admitted are expected to enroll in very high numbers.

Veterans Day Academics

At the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) meeting on March 6—one year and two days after the heralded signing of an agreement to bring the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program back to campus—professors heard a plan to make sufficient course time within the new academic calendar (with exams before Christmas) by scheduling classes on Veterans Day. Assuming an FAS vote approving the change, teachers and students will conduct regularly scheduled classes then—as is already the practice at the Law School.

On Other Campuses

The renovation and expansion of the Yale University Art Gallery—with eight classrooms on the premises and exhibition space increased nearly 75 percent, to 70,000 square feet—is nearing completion, with reopening scheduled in December. The $135-million project was funded entirely by gifts. (The Harvard Art Museums now expect to reopen at the renovated Fogg site late in 2014.)…A faculty-led “Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford University” was presented to that institution’s faculty senate in late January (www.stanford.edu/dept/undergrad/sues/report.html). It emphasizes developing student skills in aesthetic and interpretive inquiry, social inquiry, scientific analysis, quantitative reasoning, engaging difference, moral reasoning, and creative expression. A new first-year curriculum would incorporate lectures, discussions, and seminars. The report also recommends changes in residential life, international experiences, service learning, and extracurricular activities. An underlying theme is “adaptive learning”: integrating established and new knowledge to meet new challenges.

Nota Bene

Fewer faculty meetings. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences on March 27 adopted a rule change to make regular faculty meetings fall more predictably, on the first Tuesday of each month from October through May (excepting January). That schedule will reduce the number of such meetings from eight to seven, theoretically cutting the number of occasions to conduct business or air faculty members’ views on important questions. In fact, meetings are frequently canceled for lack of business.

Supporting social entrepreneurs. President Drew Faust on February 15 announced the President’s Challenge—an invitation to undergraduate- and graduate-student-led teams to compete for seed funding for solutions to social problems. Ten semifinalist teams will receive $5,000 awards to develop their ideas, with a finalist and three runners-up (chosen after a demonstration on May 17) to share a $100,000 prize and working space and support at the Harvard Innovation Lab (see http://ilab.harvard.edu/presidents-challenge and “Introducing the i-Lab”).

Exterior photograph by Bob O'Connor; interior photograph by Phil Farnsworth

Lawyer’s Lair

Harvard Law School’s tripartite Wasserstein Hall-Caspersen Student Center-Clinical Wing complex, scheduled to be formally dedicated on April 20, is now in use, providing additional classrooms and space for the multiple clinical programs and student services (the registrar, career advising and placement, and so on). It was designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP.

Upgrading the education doctorate. Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) is collaborating with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) on the seventeenth interfaculty Ph.D. program, a successor to HGSE’s current Ed.D. training for future scholars of education. The new degree outlines three interdisciplinary tracks: in human development, learning, and teaching (with roots in psychology); culture, society, and institutions (sociology); or education policy and program evaluation (economics). For more details, see www.harvardmag.com/hgse-phd.

Harvard arts medalist. Actor Tommy Lee Jones ’69 was scheduled to receive the Harvard Arts Medal on April 26. He won an Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in The Fugitive. See www.harvardmag.com/jones-12 for a 1994 Harvard Magazine profile.

Humanities and arts honorands. President Barack Obama in February conferred the National Humanities Medal on faculty members Robert Darnton, Pforzheimer University Professor and University Librarian, and Amartya Sen, Lamont University Professor, economist, philosopher, and Nobel laureate. Other recipients included alumni John Ashbery ’49, Litt.D. ’01, the poet, and Andrew Delbanco ’73, Ph.D. ’80, Levin professor in the humanities at Columbia; and former faculty member Kwame Anthony Appiah, a moral philosopher now at Princeton, and pianist and music scholar Charles Rosen, the Charles Eliot Norton lecturer at Harvard in 1980-81. Overseer Emily Rauh Pulitzer, A.M. ’63, a scholar and supporter of contemporary art—and a lead benefactor in the renovation of the Fogg Art Museum (to which she gave $45 million and 31 works of modern and contemporary art in 2008)—received the National Medal of Arts.

Common rooms by the college. As the College begins renewal of the undergraduate Houses (renovation of Old Quincy starts this June), basement spaces will be transformed into practice rooms, social areas, and a “smart” classroom—eliminating summer-storage space. Administrators announced in February that the College will provide furniture for students’ common rooms as each House is renovated, sparing undergraduates from making such purchases—and reducing the volume of possessions stored each summer. Remaining needs will be met by contracting with vendors for off-site storage at discounted bulk rates.

Engineers elevated. Two faculty members have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering: George M. Church, professor of genetics and director of the Lipper Center for Computational Genetics at Harvard Medical School, for work on technologies for sequencing the human genome and discoveries in DNA synthesis and assembly; and William W. George, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, for applying engineering principles to manufacturing in healthcare (he was chairman and CEO of Medtronic). Church’s work was profiled in “DNA as Data” and “Life: The Edited Version.” George was featured in “An Education in Ethics.”

Miscellany. Three Harvard affiliates won National Book Critics Circle awards on March 8: Maya Jasanoff, professor of history (see "Focus on the Future"), in general nonfiction for Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World; Edith Pearlman ’57, a distinguished writer of short stories, in fiction for her newest collection, Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories; and Robert B. Silvers, Litt.D. ’07, founding editor of The New York Review of Books, who received a lifetime achievement award.…The National Science Foundation has conferred its Waterman Award, for outstanding researchers under the age of 35, on associate professor of electrical engineering Robert Wood (see "Focus on the Future"); it comes with a $1-million, five-year grant to support his work on microrobotics, featured in “Tinker, Tailor, Robot, Fly”…Professor of law and of computer science Jonathan Zittrain, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, will become Harvard Law School’s vice-dean of library and information resources.

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