News in Brief

Football Coach Murphy, retiring

Coach Murphy | arT PITTMan/harvard aThlETIC CoMMunICaTIons

Coach Times Out

Tim Murphy, Harvard’s head football coach for three decades, has benched himself, announcing his retirement on January 17. He went out on top: in the 2023 season the Crimson finished 8-2 and shared the Ivy title with Dartmouth and Yale. It was Murphy’s tenth crown, outright or shared, tying him with Yale’s similarly iconic Carmen Cozza for most all-time. He also notched 200 victories in Cambridge and his 141st Ivy league victory, surpassing Cozza as the winningest coach in league games. A national search has begun for his successor. Read football correspondent Dick Friedman’s full appraisal at harvardmag.com/murphy-retires-24.


Art Acquisition

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Propaganda for War, 1939-1940 | | HARVARD ART MUSEUMS/FOGG MUSEUM, GIFT OF THE ESTATE OF DAVID SMITH, NEW YORK 

The estate of the American sculptor David Smith has made a gift to the Harvard Art Museums of Medals for Dishonor, his series of 14 cast bronze reliefs powerfully satirizing militarism and fascism; the fifteenth medal in the series has been placed on long-term loan, so the entire set is uniquely on display at Harvard. They were first made available for display as part of the museums’ reopening in 2014. Figurative works that draw on his sculptures for the Works Progress administration, the medallions were created in the late 1930s, just as smith began to create the abstract steel sculptures for which he is now acclaimed worldwide. They now reside alongside the museums’ substantial holdings of smith sculptures, drawings, paintings, and other works—most given by collector Lois Orswell.

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David Smith, Untitled (Self-portrait with “Detroit Queen”), c. 1957. | FroM lEFT: harvard arT MusEuMs/FoGG MusEuM, GIFT oF loIs orsWEll, P1989.26. © 2020 ThE EsTaTE oF davId sMITh/lICEnsEd BY vaGa aT arTIsTs rIGhTs soCIETY (ars), nEW YorK

 

Lawyer’s Leave-Taking

Diane Lopez
Diane Lopez | PHOTOGRAPH BY KRIS SNIBBE/HPAC

Diane Lopez, vice president and general counsel since 2019, retired at the end of February, concluding 30 years of University service. She was Harvard’s chief legal officer during the litigation leading to the recent Supreme Court decision outlawing affirmative action in admissions, and the lawsuit against the Trump administration’s proposed prohibition of foreign students enrolling for online programs during the pandemic. Eileen Finan, a University attorney since 1997, is serving as interim general counsel during the search for Lopez’s successor. Read more at harvardmag.com/lopez-retires-23.

 

Toward the Class of 2028

The College announced December 14 that 692 of 7,921 early-action applicants had been granted admission to the class of 2028—the first since the U.S. Supreme Court last June outlawed consideration of race in admissions decisions. Accordingly, Harvard did not detail the accepted candidates’ racial or ethnic identity. This cohort responded to essay prompts altered in the wake of the legal ruling, and applications were evaluated under procedures that keep individual or aggregated information on race or ethnicity from interviewers and readers. University-level policy changes, if any, concerning matters such as legacy or athletic preferences, have not yet been detailed. Those accepted under early action have until May 1 to make their final decision; regular applications were due January 1, with the College’s decisions to be conveyed in late March. Read more at harvardmag.com/class-2028-admissions-23.

 

Education Dean Steps Down

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Bridget Terry Long | PHOTOGRAPH CourTEsY oF hGsE CoMMunICaTIons

Bridget Terry Long, Dean of Harvard’s Graduate school of Education since 2018, will relinquish the post at the end of the academic year and resume her professorial duties after a sabbatical. She effected the redesign of
the school’s core, one-year master’s degree program and reinvigorated its program for teacher preparation. Interim president Alan M. Garber will initiate a search for Long’s successor. Read a fuller report at harvardmag.com/ terry-steps-down-24.

 

Gauging Grading

Last October, Rakesh Khurana, dean of Harvard College, reported that the mean undergraduate grade was 3.80 on a 4-point scale during the 2020-2021 academic year, and the share of A-range grades totaled 79 percent (see a full report at harvardmag.com/fas-meeting-23). That “compression,” he suggested, causes problems in distinguishing candidates for honors or conveying meaningful information to students about their work. Lo and behold, a report on Yale College marks, reported in late November, reveals a mean grade-point average of 3.7 for the 2022-2023 academic year—and A-range grades accounting for 79 percent of the total (down slightly from 82 percent in 2020-2021, perhaps reflecting sympathetic grading during the pandemic). So the phenomenon Khurana highlighted is not unique to Cambridge.

 

Eliot House Heads

Bonnie M. Talbert, interim director of the Harvard College Women’s Center and lecturer on social studies, and David F. Elmer ’98, Ph.D. ’05—appropriately, the Eliot professor of Greek literature (and chair of the classics department)—have been appointed faculty deans of Eliot House, effective July 1. As a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows, Elmer dined regularly in what will be his new home. Talbert, who earned her doctorate at Columbia, has taught in the College’s “engaged scholarship” courses. Joining them will be daughter Rosie, son Nat—and canine family member Noodle.

 

Morgue Matters

On December 7, Provost Alan M. Garber and Harvard Medical School Dean George Q. Daley conveyed to the community the independent review of the school’s anatomical gift program. The review was launched as the U.S. Attorney’s Office initiated criminal proceedings against former morgue staff member Cedric Lodge, for illegal transport of human remains stolen from cadavers donated for teaching purposes. The review recommends that morgue staff screening and training be improved, and that the school implement much more rigorous controls and tracking procedures to assure that donated remains are handled properly. Dean for medical education Bernard Chang has been charged with implementing the recommendations; the summary report is available at https://provost.harvard.edu/AGP-update.

 

Legacies of Slavery

The Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery program has circulated a request for proposals for projects to address systemic inequities affecting people harmed by slavery, in partnership with Cambridge and Boston community organizations that work on education, economic mobility, health, criminal justice, and related priorities. Separately, the co-chairs of the program’s memorialization project—professor of English and of African and African American studies Tracy K. Smith and Robinson Family director of the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts Dan Byers—have invited artists, architects, designers, and others to conceive ways to memorialize enslaved individuals on the University’s campus; no site has been announced yet.…As part of its reckoning with past connections to slavery (“News in Brief,” January-February, page 25), Rice University has moved the remains of founder William Marsh Rice from the center of the school’s academic quadrangle to a family cemetery plot, and is also relocating a statue honoring him to a less prominent site in the courtyard.

 

Marshall Honorands

Richard Allen ’22 (physics and mathematics, computer science) and seniors Simar Bajaj (chemistry, history of science), Alexander Dyer (electrical engineering, chemistry), Sarosh Nagar (chemistry, economics), Ronald Sullivan III (history and literature), and Eleanor Wikstrom (social studies) have been awarded 2024 Marshall Scholarships for two years of graduate study in the United Kingdom.

 

Capital Planning

Harvard’s 2023 “Town Gown Report” to the city of Cambridge documents several interesting building projects in the near future. Noting the age of the mid-century modern buildings on campus, including the Graduate School of Design’s Gund Hall and the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, the report points to work on facade restoration beginning in 2024 and 2025, respectively. Projects in the planning stage include the Pritzker economics building, to be sited behind the current offices in Littauer Center; preparation work on the site may begin in the fall of 2024 with construction the following spring; Grafton Architects, of Dublin, Ireland, is the designer. A revitalization of 12-30 Palmer Street, in cooperation with the Harvard COOP, is also listed; it would entail revived ground-floor retail or other uses, with institutional and office space in the upper floors of the former COOP Annex. No firm guidance is given for the mammoth renewal of Eliot and Kirkland houses (the report merely says, “The pace and sequence of House Renewal is [sic] subject to periodic review”), nor of smaller projects like the proposed renovation of the Divinity School’s Jewett House on Francis Avenue.

 

College Costs

The Commonfund Higher Education Price Index, considered the standard for measuring colleges’ and universities’ labor- and service-intensive costs, rose 4.0 percent in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023, down from 5.2 percent in fiscal 2022. The latest figure remains more than twice the 1.9 percent rate of inflation in higher education costs experienced in 2020.

 

Museums Maestro

Caroline Jean Fernald became executive director of the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture (HMSC) in early January, succeeding Brenda Tindal, who is now the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ chief campus curator (responsible for re-envisioning the visual culture of the faculty’s facilities). Fernald, who earned her doctorate in Native American art history at the University of Oklahoma, was previously executive director of the Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was involved in the repatriation of Native American ancestral remains and cultural artifacts. That is an important part of the Harvard job as well (see “The Spirit of the Law,” September-October 2021, page 21). [Updated February 16, 2024, 5:00 p.m.: We stand corrected; repatriation of Native American remains and artifacts falls under the auspices of the Peabody Museum, not the HMSC structure; we apologize for our misunderstanding. The Editors.] The HMSC, established in 2012, encompasses Harvard’s public Museum of Natural History, Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, Museum of the Ancient Near East, and Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, and partner research collections (the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the University Herbaria, and the Mineralogical and Geological Museum).

 

Newsmakers

As The New York Times and others breathlessly reported, Loker professor of English Stephanie Burt (see “‘Kingmaker’ to Gatekeeper,” November-December 2017, page 78) is teaching a wildly popular course on “Taylor Swift and Her World” this spring. No word on whether Harvard Athletics has any Travis Kelce tie-ins.…In the wake of the management and governance upheaval at OpenAI, the leading artificial intelligence company, Eliot University Professor Lawrence H. Summers, president emeritus, joined the restructured board of directors.… Pigskin prowess: senior defensive lineman Thor Griffith was named a fourth-team All American, and first-years Xaviah Bascon (return specialist) and Damien Henderson (defensive back), were named to the Freshman All-America team—the first time the Crimson have had two first-year players so honored.…Montez Paschall has been appointed assistant athletic director of equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging; he has previously served in various capacities at Tufts, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Curry College.

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