Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard's Journal

Brevia

March-April 2012


Photograph by Steve Dunwell

House Renewal: Old Leverett

Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean Michael D. Smith announced in early December that, following renovation of Old Quincy (scheduled to begin this June), the College’s next pilot project for renewal of all undergraduate Houses will be McKinlock Hall—a 1925 neo-Georgian structure that is now the older nucleus of Leverett House. The work, to begin in June 2013, would involve not only student rooms, as in Old Quincy, but also Leverett’s dining room and master’s residence. As reported earlier, the comprehensive House renovation depends on future fundraising.

U.S. Competitiveness

Harvard Business School (HBS) has unveiled the U.S. Competitiveness Project, aimed at generating ideas to enhance the ability of U.S. companies to compete globally, thereby raising American living standards; see hbs.edu/competitiveness. Research findings and other initial work will appear in the March Harvard Business Review. A survey of HBS alumni, released this January, revealed broad concerns about education, U.S. workers’ skills, and the political system; for a detailed report, see www.harvardmag.com/hbs-competitiveness. Lawrence University Professor Michael E. Porter, a leading scholar of competitive strategy, and Rauner professor of business administration Jan W. Rivkin, chair of the school’s strategy unit, direct the project.

Admissions, Early and Otherwise

In the first admissions season since the College reinstated an early-action option, after four years without, Harvard received 4,231 applicants for nonbinding early admission to the class of 2016. Of these, 772 were notified on December 15 that they had been granted admission, 546 were denied, and 2,838 were deferred for regular action (with the remaining applications withdrawn or incomplete). The pool of early applicants exceeded the number in prior years, but fewer were admitted than before, reflecting the need to adapt to the overall growth in applications in the intervening period (to a total of 34,950 last year). In January, the College announced that 34,285 applications had been received, early and regular, to study at the College starting next fall—the first decline after five years of steady growth.

Animal Welfare Violations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in January cited Harvard Medical School’s New England Primate Research Center (NEPRC) for the death of one primate and for the condition and suitability of the animal enclosures. A statement from the school—its only comment on the matter—noted that “last summer we identified and self-reported incidents of noncompliance” at the primate center. A review involving outside experts “identified a need for a reorganization of our scientific, administrative, and veterinary leadership,” which is under way. “We take the USDA findings seriously and deeply regret the situation that led to this report,” the statement continued, and “in tandem with new NEPRC leadership” seek to ensure “stringent compliance that enables us to exceed the highest standards of animal welfare and veterinary care.”

Encouraging Innovation

New Enterprise Associates (NEA), a venture-capital fund, is backing the Experiment Fund (http://experimentfund.com), an independent enterprise based at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). It intends to provide seed-stage funding to student start-ups and to innovations created locally or by people educated locally, through an undisclosed volume of investments of up to $250,000 each—initially in Cambridge and environs but ultimately throughout the East Coast. The fund will focus on information, healthcare, and energy technologies; it arose from collaborative discussions among SEAS dean Cherry Murray, NEA’s Patrick Chung ’96, M.B.A. ’02, J.D. ’04, McKay professor of the practice of biomedical engineering David Edwards, and Hugo Van Vuuren ’07, now a fellow of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Cornell 1, Stanford 0

New York City announced on December 19 that Cornell, partnering with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, had been selected to develop an applied-engineering campus on Roosevelt Island, besting Stanford, long considered the front runner. Cornell plans a campus for 2,500 students and 280 faculty members. New York envisions economic benefits from entrepreneurship similar to those that have reshaped Stanford’s neighboring Silicon Valley. Cornell’s bid was bolstered by a $350-million gift from alumnus Charles F. Feeney, founder of a duty-free shopping chain. He is reported to have given his alma mater nearly $1 billion, along with large gifts to the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California, San Francisco, and other institutions.

Tenured Women, Through Time

The 2011 report of the office of the senior vice provost for faculty development and diversity (see www.faculty.harvard.edu) includes an elaborate timeline documenting the first appointments of tenured women professors in each of Harvard’s faculties (beginning with historian Helen Maud Cam in 1948), and in the decanal and senior administrative ranks.

On Other Campuses

Hedge-fund manager James H. Simons—who formerly chaired the mathematics department at State University of New York at Stony Brook—and his wife, Marilyn, an alumna, made a $150-million gift to the campus, following earlier gifts totaling $100 million. The new funds will support medical research, endowed professorships, and student scholarships.…MIT launched MITx, offering a portfolio of full courses online, through an interactive learning platform that will enable users to earn “certificates” of completion.…The University of California, Berkeley, facing declining public support and rising tuition costs, enhanced financial aid for students from middle-class families, with caps on family costs at 15 percent of income for certain cohorts. The program echoes elements of the program offered by Harvard, Yale, and other private institutions, but is unusual among public ones, whose finances have come under pressure from deteriorating state budgets. Berkeley also announced a graduate engineering program in Shanghai, with substantial financial support from that city’s government and the developer of a high-technology park.

Photograph by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard News Office

A. Clayton Spencer

Photograph by Kris Snibbe/Harvard News Office

Krishna G. Palepu

Nota Bene

Rhodes sextet. Joining the four undergraduates and one alumnus whose selection as Rhodes Scholars was previously reported (see “Six Student Scholars,” Brevia, January-February), second-year Harvard Medical School student David Obert, originally from Canada, has also been so honored.

Bound for Bates. A. Clayton Spencer, A.M. ’82, Harvard’s vice president for policy since 2005 and a senior member of the Massachusetts Hall team since 1997, has been appointed president of Bates College, effective July 1. She played a crucial role in formulating the Harvard Financial Aid Inititiative, which dramatically increased support for students from lower- and middle-income families. A Williams College graduate, she has served as a trustee there and at Phillips Exeter Academy, and is a presidentially nominated member of the Harvard Magazine Inc. board of directors.

International adviser. President Drew Faust has named Walker professor of business administration Krishna G. Palepu (who is also the Business School’s senior associate dean for international development) senior adviser for global strategy (see also “Into India”). He will work with Faust, Provost Alan Garber, and others to “create a more intentional framework” for Harvard’s international strategy and “develop a more effective and coordinated approach to international fundraising” and alumni engagement.

Miscellany. The Harvard Kennedy School’s Guggenheim professor of the practice of criminal justice, Christopher Stone, who is also director of the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, has been appointed president of the Open Society Foundations, founded by financier George Soros; the move is effective this July.…The National Human Genome Research Institute has launched a four-year, $416-million research program intended to focus genome sequencing on medical applications. Harvard-associated participants include the Broad Institute ($35.9 million in the first year), as one of three national large-scale sequencing centers, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital ($2.4 million per year), as one of five clinical exploratory research centers.…Margaret H. Marshall, Ed.M. ’69, Ed ’77, L ’78, who was Harvard’s vice president and general counsel from 1992 to 1996 and then justice and chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, is rejoining her former law firm, Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP, as senior counsel and the Law School faculty as a senior research fellow and lecturer—and will receive the Radcliffe Institute Medal on May 25, the institute has announced. (She is an Incorporator of Harvard Magazine Inc., as is her husband, Anthony Lewis ’48, NF ’57, the former New York Times columnist.)

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