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Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard's Journal

Brevia

May-June 2006

Professorships Stimulus

The University on February 16 announced a $50-million Professorship Challenge Fund. Donors of $3 million qualify for a $1-million match—thus endowing a named professorship. Gifts of $1.5 million will be matched with $500,000, completing a faculty-development fund that can be used to set up laboratories for scientists or support junior professors’ research in the years before they are considered for tenure. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which has rapidly expanded its professorial ranks (and strained its budget in the process; see “Fraught Finances,” March-April, page 61), will be the major beneficiary. All other schools, except the business and law faculties, which have run recent capital campaigns, also qualify. Major supporters of the challenge fund include Charles J. Egan Jr. ’54 and Mary Bowersox Egan ’55 and the Stanley H. Durwood Foundation; Alphonse Fletcher Jr. ’87; J. Christopher Flowers ’79 and Mary H. White; University treasurer James F. Rothenberg ’68, M.B.A. ’70, and Anne Fitzpatrick Rothenberg; Brian D. Young ’76 and Anne T. Young; and an anonymous donor.


Tuition Totals

The term bill for College tuition, room, board, and fees for the 2006-2007 academic year will be $43,655, an increase of $1,980, or 4.75 percent, from the current year. This represents a slight acceleration from the 4.5 percent increase for 2005-2006, when the cost of an undergraduate year at Harvard first topped $40,000 (the $30,000 barrier was crossed in 1997-98). Scholarship aid will rise 6.2 percent to $90 million.


Allston Organization

Architectural rendering courtesy of Behnisch Architects

Planning, permitting, design, and construction for Allston properties have now been separated from other Harvard real-estate operations. A new Allston Development Group, under chief operating officer Chris Gordon, reports directly to President Lawrence H. Summers.

Chris Gordon
Jon Chase / Harvard News Office

All other work for the Cambridge and Longwood Medical campuses will be coordinated by the University Planning Office, which continues reporting to the vice president for administration. (The two functions had been more closely linked, for two reasons. First, decisions made about Allston affect the existing campuses. Second, financing for Allston through the Strategic Infrastructure Fund—an assessment on endowment assets, now amounting to more than $100 million per year—is also to be used to adapt current buildings for Allston-related reuse or modifications.) On February 17, the University announced plans for an initial Allston development, a 500,000-square-foot life-sciences complex south of Western Avenue. Stuttgart-based Behnisch Architects, designers of Genzyme Corporation’s headquarters near the MIT campus, was selected as architect. Interior sketches by the firm are shown here; other examples of its work are available on line at www.behnisch.com.



Grades Go Up

Continuing the recent trend (interrupted only by a dip in academic years 2001-02 and 2002-03), the mean grade awarded to students in Harvard College increased again. For the 2004-05 school year, reported College dean Benedict H. Gross in January, the mean grade on a 4.0 scale reached a new high of 3.424. Letter grade A accounted for 23.7 percent of scores and A- for 25.0 percent. Expressing “concern” over grade compression, Gross promised more faculty discussion about grading practices.


Podcast Professor

Quantitative Reasoning 48, “Bits” (www.eecs.harvard.edu/qr48), which covers the digital world, this spring became the first College course available by podcast, freeing its students from showing up for class at all. The course, offered for the second time by McKay professor of computer science Harry R. Lewis, is also available to distance learners through the University’s continuing-education program.


Nota Bene

Applications go down. Applications for admission to the Harvard College class of 2010 totaled 22,753, a minute drop from the 22,796 who applied last year (when the total pool rose 15 percent). Applications to all the other Ivy League undergraduate programs rose. The proportion of women applicants rose to 51.6 percent, a new high. Admission was offered to 2,109 applicants (9.3 percent).

Admissions alterations. Applicants next fall will have to begin their campus visits in a new venue. As use of Byerly Hall reverts to the Radcliffe Institute, which will base its fellowship program there, the public functions of undergraduate admissions will relocate to Agassiz House (at the opposite side of Radcliffe Yard); administrative operations go to Cronkhite Center. Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offices, including admissions, will also move, to the third floor of Holyoke Center.

Convexity cashes in. Convexity Capital Management LP, the fixed-income-focused hedge fund founded by former Harvard Management Company president Jack R. Meyer, M.B.A. ’69, and colleagues, reportedly began business with $6 billion to invest—a record sum. Harvard has contracted with Convexity to invest a fraction of the University’s endowment funds.

Politics and business on line. The Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government has made available a video archive (with search engine) of presentations at the Kennedy Forum since 1978, including speakers from Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton to Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres; see http://ksgaccman.harvard.edu/iop/events_forum_listview.asp. Harvard Business School’s Baker Library launched its “Historical Returns” multimedia series with “Financial Bubbles,” comparing the eighteenth-century South Seas speculation to the recent dotcom boom and bust; visit www.library.hbs.edu/hc (and see "Money Rules" in this issue).

Against obesity. Penny Pritzker ’81 and her husband, Bryan Traubert, have given $5 million to Harvard School of Public Health to support nationwide use of a childhood exercise and nutrition program aimed at combating obesity in urban poor and minority communities. The funds will also underwrite a scholarship fund and a junior professorship in the field.

Logo look. Harvard is fiercely protective of its name and symbols. So it was surprising to find the University shield displayed in a two-page, color advertisement in the March 14 New York Times (and other papers) promoting Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s $20-million gifts to Harvard and Georgetown for Islamic studies (March-April, page 68). The prince regularly advertises his investments and charitable gifts in this manner, and wanted to do so for this program, according to Harvard development personnel. Accordingly, the provost’s office granted the unusual permission.

Miscellany. With the appointment of Stanford’s Susan Athey as professor of economics, effective July 1, Harvard’s large department now has three tenured women. Athey told the Crimson that she expects to begin undergraduate teaching in 2007-08, follow-ing a maternity leave this fall.…The Italian Ministry for the Environment and Territory has funded a $2.5-million project for research, teaching, and fellowships on sustainable development to be conducted by the Kennedy School’s Center for International Development.…The University will contribute $1.3 million toward Cambridge’s $6.8-million renovation of Harvard Square roads, sidewalks, and lighting.…The Harvard Medical School Dubai Center, a postgraduate facility that will train physician specialists, broke ground in late February. The Harvard Medical International venture, in Dubai Healthcare City, was on the itinerary for medical school officials and President Lawrence H. Summers in late March, as he returned from an alumni trip to India.…

Richard Platt
Steve Gilbert / Harvard Medical School

Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care will lead a $3-million study—one of four granted by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences—to analyze outbreaks of infectious disease, whether naturally occurring or as a result of bioterrorist attack. Faculty members Richard Platt and Martin Kulldorff are co-principal investigators.…Harvard faculty members were shut out in the National Academy of Engineering’s annual election of new members (76 this year).…Olympic medalist Joey Cheek, who donated his bonus money to the Right to Play charity, got an unusual recommendation when NBC announcer Bob Costas used the closing-ceremony broadcast to appeal by name to William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid, to reconsider the speedskater’s unsuccessful early application to the College. The College declined comment on Cheek’s status.…

Brian W. Casey
Stephanie Mitchell / Harvard News Office

Brian W. Casey, Ph.D. ’00, returns to Harvard from Brown, where he had been assistant provost for arts and sciences academ-ic planning. He is now associate dean for academic affairs, i.e., the chief faculty recruiter for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Coincidentally, he succeeds Vincent J. Tompkins, Ph.D. ’91, who became deputy provost at Brown last fall.