Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898 |

Public Health Professor

Paul Farmer, M.D. ’88, Ph.D. ’90, has been appointed the first Kolokotrones University Professor. He had been Presley professor and chair of the department of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School and a professor in the department of global health and population at Harvard School of Public Health. Farmer has worked on community strategies to deliver healthcare; health and human rights; and the role of social inequalities in determining disease and health outcomes. He is widely known as co-founder of Partners in Health, which has been particularly involved in delivering care in rural Haiti and in addressing AIDS and tuberculosis among poor populations—work described in the bestselling book Mountains beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder ’67 (excerpted in these pages in November-December 2003). For a more detailed report, seehttp://harvardmagazine.com/2010/12/news-update-gomes-farmer

ROTC after DADT

In the wake of the U.S. Senate’s vote on December 18 to end “don’t ask, don’t tell”—the policy that kept openly gay people from serving in the military—President Drew Faust issued a statement observing, “Because of today’s action by the Senate, gay and lesbian Americans will now also have the right to pursue this honorable calling, and we as a nation will have the benefit of their service,” consistent with her earlier remarks on the issue (see http://harvardmagazine.com/2010/11/rotc-reexamined). As a result, she continued, “I look forward to pursuing discussions with military officials and others to achieve Harvard’s full and formal recognition of ROTC.” Most other universities that had refused to sanction ROTC officially while military policy conflicted with campus antidiscrimination policies also moved toward official recognition, either administratively or by faculty legislation; among them are Brown, Columbia, Stanford, and Yale.

Admissions Angst

Harvard College received about 35,000 applications for admission to the class of 2015, according to data released in mid January—a nearly 15 percent increase over the 30,489 applications received last year. With a targeted freshman class size of approximately 1,640, it is conceivable that the admissions rate (6.9 percent last year) will decrease to less than 6 percent—a painful measure of the pressure facing applicants to the most competitive colleges and universities. Among other schools reporting, Brown received about 31,000 applications (up about 3 percent); Columbia 34,587 (up 32 percent); and Stanford 34,200 (up about 7 percent).

Higher-Education Update

Columbia University has won final appeals concerning the use of eminent domain for the assembly of its 17-acre campus expansion in Harlem. The multidecade plan envisions new laboratories, education and arts facilities, and housing. Henry R. Kravis, the private-equity leader, pledged $100 million to the university’s business school to support construction of its new facilities on the planned new campus. Having raised $3.9 billion toward a $4-billion capital campaign goal a year ahead of schedule, Columbia raised its sights to $5 billion and extended the effort two years, to 2013.…Yale announced that it would underwrite the “New Haven Promise,” raising new funds (up to $4 million per year will be required) to pay public higher-education costs for any local public-school student who meets academic, attendance, and public-service standards. Yale is also exploring a joint venture with the National University of Singapore to establish a new residential liberal-arts college there.…The five-year, $1.75-billion Aspire campaign at Princeton had raised $1.26 billion as of the end of September.…Cornell received an $80-million gift for a center that will underwrite interdisciplinary research on sustainability, spanning 220 faculty members and 55 academic departments. The gift, from Cornell alumnus David R. Atkinson and his wife, Patricia Atkinson, is the largest from an individual to the Ithaca campus.…Stanford has dedicated a 200,000-square-foot stem-cell research building at its School of Medicine. The facility, underwritten with a $75-million gift and funding from the state’s regenerative-medicine institute, has space for 33 research labs; it is described as the largest of its kind in the country.

Nota Bene

South Asia’s scholarly status. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences on December 7 unanimously approved a new identity for the former department of Sanskrit and Indian studies. Effective July 1, it will be known as the department of South Asian Studies. The motion, presented by department chair Diana L. Eck, is more than terminological, she explained. The field at Harvard has grown from a single office in Widener Library and a focus on instruction in a few languages to burgeoning expertise in literatures, culture, history, anthropological inquiry, and a still widening array of humanities and social-science disciplines extending across the dynamic subcontinent as a whole (see www.fas.harvard.edu/~sanskrit for the detailed faculty and course listings).

Photograph by Meryl Levin

Susan Meiselas

Shutterbug honorand. The Office for the Arts has announced that photographer Susan Meiselas, Ed.M. ’71, will receive the Harvard Arts Medal during the annual Arts First Celebration (this year, April 28-May 1). Meiselas, whose work has documented New England carnival strippers, Nicaraguan Sandinistas, and the Kurdish people (see Harvard Magazine’s November-December 2010 profile, “A Lens on History” ), will receive her honor from President Drew Faust on April 29 in a ceremony at the New College Theatre.

Professor Summers. Upon completion of his service as director of the National Economic Council at year-end, Lawrence H. Summers resumed his position as Eliot University Professor, based at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), where he will also become co-director, with HKS executive dean John A. Haigh, of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.

Photograph by Fred Field/Harvard News Office

Peter J. Gomes

Ministering to the minister. The Reverend Peter J. Gomes, Plummer professor of Christian morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, suffered a heart attack and subsequent stroke in early December, and was being cared for at Massachusetts General Hospital and, subsequently, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. The Church announced the Reverend Wendel W. Meyer had rejoined its staff as associate minister for administration to fill in during Gomes’s absence. Gomes is widely known for his benedictions at the Morning Exercises each Commencement, where he reads a prayer that he had concealed in his cap.

Photograph by Tracy Powell

Peter Tufano

Photograph courtesy of Dennis M. Ritchie

Dennis M. Ritchie

Miscellany. Harvard Business School’s Coleman professor of financial management Peter Tufano ’79, M.B.A. ’84, Ph.D. ’89, will become dean of the University of Oxford’s Said Business School, effective July 1. Tufano’s research has focused on consumer behavior and the use of incentives and regulations to help unsophisticated investors and poor citizens save safely and effectively (see “Save Yourself,”  March-April 2009, page 8). He also conceived the new Harvard Innovation Lab, in Allston, and is a member of the three-person Allston Work Team, seeking alternatives for development of Harvard-owned property there (see “Executive Education, Innovation Lab, Allston Alterations” ).…Michael P. Burke, formerly HKS director of admissions and registrar, has been appointed the new registrar for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.…Trey Grayson ’94, a two-term Kentucky secretary of state, has been appointed director of the Institute of Politics; the state’s term limits prevented him from running again, and he was defeated in the Republican primary for Kentucky’s open U.S. Senate seat last year.…Knafel professor of music Thomas Forrest Kelly has been decorated as a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) of the French Republic, that nation’s highest recognition for significant contributions to arts and literature.…Dennis M. Ritchie ’63, A.M. ’65, G ’68, who concentrated in physics and then switched to applied mathematics as a graduate student, was awarded the Japan Prize in January, along with Ken Thompson, with whom he developed the UNIX computer operating system in 1969, when they were both researchers at Bell Labs.…Villa I Tatti has conferred the I Tatti Mongan Prize—for scholarship in Italian Renaissance and other arts—on Elizabeth Cropper, dean of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. The prize is named in honor of the late Agnes Mongan, curator of drawings and then director of the Fogg Art Museum, and Elizabeth Mongan, a connoisseur and curator of prints.…Adam Wheeler, who notoriously forged his academic record to gain admission to the College and later plagiarized essays and used them to win prizes and research grants, in December pleaded guilty to 20 counts of larceny, identity fraud, and other charges. He was sentenced to 10 years of probation and ordered to make restitution of nearly $46,000 to the University; he must continue in psychological treatment.

Publishing a Nobelist

Harvard University Press will publish the first English-language anthology of writings by the imprisoned winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, the Chinese democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo. The collection, compiled by his wife, Liu Xia, herself under house arrest, and by Independent Chinese PEN Center president Tien-ch’i Liao, is scheduled for release in September. In the photo, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjoern Jagland, sits next to the diploma and medal placed on the empty chair in Oslo City Hall December 10, 2010, to honor Liu Xiaobo in absentia during this year’s Nobel Prize award ceremonies.