Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard's Journal

Brevia

March-April 2005

 

Scientific Ventures

Albert J. WeatherheadCelia J. Weatherhead
Justin Ide / Harvard News OfficeJustin Ide / Harvard News Office

Flexible funding for innovative research in basic and applied sciences throughout the University is the goal of a $30-million gift from Albert J. Weatherhead III '50, B '52, and Celia J. Weatherhead -- whose earlier $21-million gift endowed the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Through the Weatherhead Endowment for Collaborative Science and Technology, income will be used like venture capital, to seed promising interdisciplinary projects in science and technology, within and across departments and schools; as that research attracts grant support, the endowment income will be redeployed to nascent work in new areas. Among the fields where such investments may initially be directed by President Lawrence H. Summers and Provost Steven E. Hyman are nanoscience, neuroscience, and biomedical research. Hyman, who coordinates science planning University-wide, said the endowment "will jump-start many promising initiatives at Harvard."

 

Room Service?

Continuing its interest in all things Allston, Harvard in January acquired the 15-story DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel, fronting the Charles River on Soldiers Field Road. A price for the 308-room property, offered for sale by its owning partnership last October, was not reported, but was rumored as approximately $75 million, based on the value of Boston lodging facilities. For the "near future," the University announced, it plans to maintain existing operations, paying relevant taxes. The hotel, just downriver from the new high-rise graduate student housing at One Western Avenue, is close to both the Business School and the planned future Allston campus, expected to house large science laboratories and new School of Public Health and Graduate School of Education campuses. That suggests the need for additional area faculty and student housing in years to come.

Dissertation Dollars

Peter T. Ellison
Rose Lincoln / Harvard News Office

As previously announced, beginning this fall, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will offer entering students in the humanities and social sciences guaranteed fifth- or sixth-year fellowship support while they write their dissertations. (Science doctoral candidates receive equivalent funding from foundations and the government.) At a rare January faculty meeting, GSAS dean Peter T. Ellison announced that the aggregation of internal funds and additional resources provided by the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the office of the president, and new gifts had made it possible to extend comparable support to students already enrolled as well; he made a plea for the remaining few hundred thousand dollars needed to extend such fellowships universally to the 130 or so eligible students each year.

 

Changing Times

In an effort to make its meetings more efficient, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences -- facing a heavy agenda of curriculum review, academic planning, and discussions on tenure, the libraries, and more -- has modified its long-cherished reading of "Memorial Minutes" on the lives and intellectual accomplishments of deceased colleagues. As the "minutes," which are written by committee, stretched to a quarter-hour, the time for deliberation dwindled. And so, with the meeting of December 14, printed minutes were made available to professors arriving in University Hall's Faculty Room (where they were greeted by two tea-and-cookie serving stations, not one, to accommodate the recent large attendance), complemented by abbreviated oral presentations. The new era began with the commemoration of a signal part of Harvard's past: the presentation by the Reverend Peter J. Gomes, a champion of tradition, of the memorial minute on president emeritus Nathan Marsh Pusey, who died on November 14, 2001.

 

Nota Bene

Howard K. Koh
Courtesy of Harvard School of Public Health

Provostial professor. Richard L. Menschel, M.B.A. '59, and his wife, Ronay A. Menschel, have endowed the Fineberg professorship of public health, honoring Harvey V. Fineberg, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health for 13 years before his service as University provost from 1997 to 2001. Howard K. Koh, head of the school's division of public health practice, is the first holder of the new chair; it will rotate to a new appointee in that division or the department of biostatistics every five years. Fineberg, now president of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, expressed his delight at this "most agreeable way of extending my connection to the faculty" and the support given to professors' "ability to discover, to teach, and to improve health."

 

Gone from government. Jane Corlette, associate vice president for government, community, and public affairs -- the administrative officer for the unit, and Harvard's Washington representative for health-related policy issues such as stem-cell research and the financing of teaching hospitals -- will retire at the end of May.

 

Wanderlust. Looking westward, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals' 157th show, running in Cambridge through March 20 before its New York-Bermuda tour, is "Terms of Frontierment," featuring Luke N. Forglory, his Girl Scout sidekick Wanda Buymycookies, and the last of the buffalo, Alma Stexstinct; mixing geographies, the Indian maiden Pocahotness also appears.

 

Harvard and the homeland. Among other alumni appointed to high positions in President Bush's second term is Secretary of Homeland Security designate Michael Chertoff '75, J.D. '78, who would succeed Thomas J. Ridge '67, the department's first leader.

 

Refurbished and reopened. The Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, part of the Radcliffe Institute, showed off its new look during tours on February 1 and resumed regular operations the next day, after a comprehensive, year-long renovation, completed at a cost of approximately $7 million. The research library now contains enhanced lower-floor reading rooms to accommodate scholars who are making use of the collection, which does not circulate, as well as improved environmental controls and security systems. 

Holly T. Sargent
Courtesy of Holly T. Sargent

Miscellany. Siemens has endowed the Anna Lindh professorship in global leadership and public policy at the Kennedy School of Government, honoring the Swedish foreign minister who was murdered in 2003, shortly before she was expected to become prime minister....Despite a 3 percent decline in sales revenue to $39.6 million, the Coop raised its fiscal year 2004 member rebate to 6 percent from 5 percent the year before.... The venerable Dana-Palmer House, used to accommodate University guests when the adjacent Faculty Club is booked up, is being converted to academic space for the humanities; its other architectural neighbor is Barker Center, the home to most Arts and Sciences humanities faculty members....Holly T. Sargent, who has been the external affairs dean responsible for fundraising at the Kennedy School of Government, is now Harvard's senior associate dean for advancement and senior director for University Women's Initiatives -- involving alumnae in devel- opment efforts -- with a related portfolio in international fundraising and "engagement" with the World Economic Forum.... Jennifer Leaning, professor of international health and assistant professor of medicine, will also serve as the Radcliffe Institute's senior adviser in international and policy studies. She works extensively on humanitarian crises in the developing world, and also chaired the College's recent committee on sexual assault (see "On Preventing Sexual Violence," July-August 2003, page 68)....Harvard Medical School has extended full affiliate status to Cambridge Health Alliance, parent to the Cambridge and Somerville Hospitals, making it the eighteenth affiliated institution for research, teaching, and clinical training....In response to the tsunami in Asia, the University matched employee and student contributions, up to $100, to disaster-relief efforts and aid organizations....The blogger who broke the news of Apple Computer's forthcoming "mini" iMac computer on line, in advance of its January unveiling -- and earned a lawsuit from the company alleging violation of its trade secrets -- is 19-year-old Nicholas M. Ciarelli '08; the Crimson reported he has run the ThinkSecret.com site for six years....National Book Critics Circle Award nominees include Cogan University Professor Stephen Greenblatt, for Will in the World (see "The Mysterious Mr. Shakespeare," September-October 2004, page 56), detective Edward Conlon '87, for Blue Blood (see "NYPD Crimson," January-February, page 84), poet Adrienne Rich '51, Litt.D. '90, for The School among the Ruins: Poems 2000-2004, and novelist Philip Roth, Litt.D. '03, for The Plot against America.