Speaking at Harvard Law School’s (HLS) capital-campaign celebration on October 23 (see “Educating Professionals,” page 58), President Drew Faust made a joke that used her skills as a historian, observing: “[I]t’s quite possible that 12 days from now…Rutherford B. Hayes may no longer be the only right answer to the trivia question, ‘What graduate of Harvard Law School was elected president of the United States?’” Barack Obama is J.D. ’91. Given that Michelle Obama is J.D. ’88, perhaps a whole new category of HLS-related First Family trivia is in order. (In the meantime, the Chronicle of Higher Education noted that the Obamas, along with Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, make the first quartet of such leaders to have work experience in higher education—at, respectively, the University of Chicago, Widener University School of Law, and Delaware Technical and Community College.) Barack Obama was, famously, elected the first African-American president of Harvard Law Review in 1990; this magazine’s coverage is shown here. In 1991, he was one of three petition candidates for the Board of Overseers on a slate advanced by Harvard-Radcliffe Alumni/ae Against Apartheid, which favored divestment of University investments in firms doing business in South Africa. (None of the three was elected). For more coverage of the president-elect’s Harvard connections, see “Barack Obama of Harvard Law School—and Beyond,” and the HLS website, www.law.harvard.edu.
Rhodes and Marshall Scholars
College seniors Kyle Q. Haddad-Fonda (see “Buzzing In,” page 67), of Issaquah, Washington, who concentrates in history and Near Eastern languages, and Malorie Snider, of Friendswood, Texas, who concentrates in biological anthropology, have been awarded Rhodes scholarships. Julia Parker Goyer, of Birmingham, Alabama, a 2007 Duke graduate now pursuing a doctorate at Harvard Graduate School of Education, also won a Rhodes. Separately, four seniors won Marshall scholarships: Kyle Mahowald of Fort Lauderdale, an English concentrator; Emma Wu of Camarillo, California, who focuses on neuropsychology; and two social-studies concentrators, Andrew Miller of Chicago and John Sheffield of Fayetteville, North Carolina.
With a joint Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS)-Harvard Medical School department of stem cell and regenerative biology in place (www.scrb.harvard.edu), work has begun to advance an undergraduate course of study in the emerging field. FAS’s Faculty Council has reviewed a proposed concentration in “human developmental and regenerative biology,” with legislation likely in the next few months. The department, which describes its focus as “study of the development, maintenance and repair of vertebrate tissues. How organisms, including humans, develop from a fertilized egg, maintain tissues in the adult body and repair dysfunctional or damaged tissue…,” envisions launching the concentration this coming fall.
American art. The Harvard Art Museum announced in November that it had raised $10.5 million to endow the department of American art, including a curatorship named in honor of Theodore E. Stebbins Jr., J.D. ’64, Ph.D. ’71 (who has held the position since 2002), an assistant curatorship, and an operations fund named in honor of Benjamin Rowland, who was on the faculty from 1930 to 1972. The latter was created by John Wilmerding ’60, Ph.D. ’65, Sarofim professor in American art emeritus at Princeton; he and Stebbins both studied with Rowland.
Economic adviser. President-elect Barack Obama has named Eliot University Professor Lawrence H. Summers to lead the National Economic Council. For the views of the former Secretary of the Treasury and president of the University on urgent issues, before the financial crisis worsened, see “The Economic Agenda” (September-October 2008, page 27).
Best books. Annette Gordon-Reed, J.D. ’84, won the National Book Award for nonfiction, for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family—edging out President Drew Faust, a fellow finalist, author of This Republic of Suffering, about death in the Civil War. Frank Bidart, A.M. ’67, was also nominated for his book of poems, Watching the Spring Festival. Subsequently, the New York Times Book Review picked Faust’s volume as one of the year’s 10 best, along with A Mercy, the new novel by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, Litt.D. ’89, who read from the manuscript during Faust’s installation service in 2007.
Radcliffe advisers. The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study has named six faculty members who will help shape its programs and serve as liaisons to colleagues throughout Harvard. The humanities leaders are Lea professor of history Ann Blair and professor of history of art and architecture Ewa Lajer-Burcharth. The social-science advisers are Aetna professor of public policy and corporate management Brigitte Madrian and Ford professor of the social sciences Robert J. Sampson. The science leaders are professor of astronomy Dimitar Sasselov and professor of neurobiology Rosalind A. Segal. Creative-arts appointments are pending.
Medical merit. Four faculty members have been elected members of the Institute of Medicine, the biomedical and health arm of the National Academies: professor of immunology and infectious diseases Phyllis Jean Kanki; Cabot professor of genetics Raju S. Kucherlapati; professor of surgery Marsha A. Moses; and Walcott professor of biostatistics Louise M. Ryan.
Gates grant. As part of its support for the Grand Challenges in Global Health program, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (www.gatesfoundation.org) in October funded 104 “explorations” grants to the tune of $100,000 each: seed money for cutting-edge ideas deserving of initial, high-risk testing. Among the recipients are: professor of genetics George M. Church; professor of dermatology Tayyaba Hasan; and associate professor of systems biology Roy Kishony (all for work on limiting drug resistance); and research fellow in anaesthesia Nikita K. Malavia (for work on using nanoparticles to attack viral infections).
Fund flows. As Harvard celebrates significant gifts in support of the arts and sciences (see “Advancing Art” and “Engineering Bioengineering”), institutions with similar agendas continue to benefit from their donors’ largess. Nike founder Philip H. Knight and Penny Knight, who previously underwrote Stanford Graduate School of Business’s new campus, pledged $100 million to Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute for research—$98 million of which is for use at the discretion of the institute’s director. Lorry I. Lokey, founder of Business Wire, pledged $42 million to Stanford’s School of Medicine, complementing an earlier $33-million gift, to build a stem-cell research center. Ratan Tata gave Cornell University $50 million for fellowships for students from India and to support joint research on agriculture and nutrition with Indian universities. Yale announced a planned $75-million India Initiative, and, separately, a new Institute for Biological, Physical, and Engineering Sciences. The University of Pennsylvania funded a $50-million Neuroscience Initiative, an area where it has added 18 new faculty positions in recent years. And David G. Booth, who earned his degree from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business in 1971, gave the school cash, an income stream, and equity in his firm worth a total of $300 million.
Masters move on. Pforzheimer House master James J. McCarthy, professor of biological oceanography (who shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), and co-master Sue McCarthy will step down at the end of the academic year, after 13 years of service.
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Miscellany. Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra’s music director, James Yannatos, who took up that post in 1964, will retire at the end of the academic year. The orchestra itself just celebrated its bicentennial (see “Two Centuries of Sound,” May-June 2008, page 23).…Harvard Law School will move from letter grading to an Honors-Pass-Low Pass-Fail system, beginning with students who matriculate in the fall. In a joking reference to the change, at the school’s capital-campaign celebration on October 23, Scott professor of law Robert C. Clark, the school’s immediate past dean and a tough grader, alluded to the transition to the “wimpy Yale system” (which is also used at Stanford).…
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Dan Shore, who had served in an acting capacity since last May, in October was appointed the University’s vice president for finance and chief financial officer.…
Harvard’s new director of sustainability is Heather Henriksen, M.P.A. ’08. A member of the task force that set a goal of reducing the University’s greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 percent by 2016, she will now oversee measures to achieve that objective. She leads the newly named Office for Sustainability, successor to the Harvard Green Campus Initiative (www.green.harvard.edu).…Harvard Medical School has appointed Gina Vild associate dean for public affairs; she had held similar positions at Massachusetts General Hospital’s cancer and women’s health programs, and at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.