Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard's Journal

Brevia

March-April 2009














Welcome Home

Each March, on the Thursday before spring break, freshmen learn their upperclass housing assignments. To celebrate, most Houses initiate their newcomers with T-shirts, like these from last year's festivities.

 

Washington-Bound

John P. Holdren

Kathleen Dooher

Elena Kagan

Among the people asked to serve at senior levels in President Barack Obama’s administration: Arne Duncan ’86, Chicago school superintendent since 2001, will be the new Secretary of Education (see “School CEO,” September-October 2002, page 88I). John P. Holdren, Heinz professor of environmental policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, will become assistant to the president for science and technology (see “Is Nuclear Power Scalable?” May-June 2006, page 44); Holdren also c0-chairs an advisory council in those areas with Eric Lander, professor of systems biology and director of the Broad Institute, the genomics-research center, and Harold Varmus, A.M. ’62, head of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (see page 16). Elena Kagan, dean of Harvard Law School since 2003, will be Solicitor General of the United States; upon her confirmation, Reid professor of law Howell Jackson will become the acting dean. Cass R. Sunstein, who recently became Frankfurter professor of law (see "The Internet: Foe of Democracy?"), will become administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, overseeing a wide array of regulations. And Wiener professor of public policy Jeffrey B. Liebman (see “Reforming Social Security,” March-April 2005, page 30) departs the Harvard Kennedy School to become executive associate director of the Office of Management and Budget.

 

Medical Ethics Update

Harvard Medical School dean Jeffrey S. Flier has appointed a 19-member committee to undertake a comprehensive review of the school’s policy on conflicts of interest and commitment, last revised in 2004 (see “Controlling Conflicts of Interest,” September-October 2004, page 76; the policy is available at www.hms.harvard.edu/integrity/conf.html). The policy governs interactions between faculty members and industry. The review will also, according to the school’s announcement, “synchronize the process for regular reporting of financial interests among the HMS-affiliated institutions.” Concern over such matters has been heightened ever since U.S. Senator Charles Grassley disclosed unreported financial ties between researchers and companies, including support from Johnson & Johnson for professor of psychiatry Joseph Biederman, whose work at Massachusetts General Hospital has underpinned the use of antipsychotic drugs to treat children; the medical school is reviewing Biederman’s case.

 

Endowment Manager Compensation

Harvard Management Company announced in late December the compensation awarded to its five highest-paid staff members during fiscal year 2008. Their base salaries, performance-based bonuses, and benefits, reflecting the above-market returns of fiscal 2007 (when the endowment investment return was 23 percent) and fiscal 2008 (8.6 percent), ranged from $6.4 million for Stephen Blyth, managing director, international fixed income, to $3.9 million for Andrew Wiltshire, managing director, natural resources. Mohamed El-Erian, who was president and CEO until December 2007, was paid $921,000 for his services. Robert S. Kaplan served as acting president and CEO for the balance of the year, without remuneration. Jane L. Mendillo became president and CEO as of July 1, 2008.

 

Nota Bene

Lee Stalworth

José Ortiz

Art museum manager. José Ortiz has been appointed deputy director of the Harvard Art Museum. He had been deputy director/chief of finance and administration at the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, part of the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., and was previously at The Cloisters, part of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. He arrives as work progresses on the wholesale renovation of the Fogg Museum, which closed last summer; relocating the collections, readying the site, and construction are expected to extend into 2013. During that time, oversight of the project, logistics, and operations will put extra demands on the museum staff.

 

Competing campuses. Stanford University has launched the Precourt Institute for Energy, a $100-million research effort funded principally by its alumni Jay Precourt, a 1962 Harvard M.B.A. ($50 million) and Thomas Steyer and Kat Taylor ’80 ($40 million), a married couple who met during their professional studies in Palo Alto; their gift funds the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy. Columbia University has received approval from New York State to proceed with its 17-acre expansion in Manhattanville, which is projected to involve some $6 billion of new facilities in the next quarter-century. Local litigation against the plan and the processes for implementing it still looms. The University of Michigan has announced the purchase, for $108 million, of a surplus Pfizer Inc. pharmaceutical and scientific research campus, with 2 million square feet of laboratory and office space. It is intended to accommodate at least 100 new faculty members being appointed to work in interdisciplinary science. The purchase echoes Yale’s acquisition of Bayer’s 136-acre surplus campus in West Haven, for a similar price, in 2007, locking up more than half a million square feet of modern laboratories.

 

Ed Quinn

Michèle Lamont

Diversity development. Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean Michael D. Smith has appointed Goldman professor of European studies and professor of sociology and of African American studies Michèle Lamont as senior adviser on faculty development and diversity, succeeding Lisa Martin, an international-relations specialist who is now at the University of Wisconsin. Lamont—whose new book, How Professors Think, will be published this spring—will advise the dean, the divisional disciplinary deans, and the faculty at large on gender, racial, and ethnic diversity and on metrics for measuring the faculty’s progress in development and diversity. She will also be responsible for assuring that searches are inclusive—a particular challenge now that FAS has had to cut back appointments significantly for financial reasons.

 

Belts tightened. As evidence of the financial restraint being imposed throughout the University in response to the endowment’s decline and the recession, the Harvard Alumni Association has canceled the Global Series Conference that was scheduled for March 27-29 in Cape Town, South Africa, and has also deferred the redesign of post.harvard, the main alumni Web portal, for at least six months. And the Faculty Club announced that, beginning in the spring term, it would be “lowering prices dramatically” to keep University business: private-event room charges have been cut in half, and more economical dining options introduced.

 

Graham Ramsay

David Golan

Lawrence Lessig

Miscellany. Professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology David Golan has been appointed Harvard Medical School’s first dean for graduate education, charged with coordinating programs to enhance graduate students’ engagement with all aspects of biomedical discovery.…Harvard Health Publications, the medical school’s consumer-information and -marketing division, has enhanced and redesigned its website: https://www.health.harvard.edu.… Lawrence Lessig returns to Harvard Law School, from which he departed in 2000 for Stanford, as professor and faculty director of the Safra Foundation Center for Ethics (see “Ethics in Practice,” May-June 2007, page 58; www.ethics.harvard.edu). There, he intends to examine the effect on public institutions of depending on money from sources affected by the work of those institutions (such as medical programs receiving funds from pharmaceutical companies); he has been known for work on cyberlaw and intellectual property (see “Code Is Law,” January-February 2000, page 37).…The task-force report on the Harvard University Police Department’s interaction with black community members (see “Probing Policing,” November-December 2008, page 62), expected at the end of last year, is now scheduled to be completed by early spring.…Among the candidates seeking to succeed Congressman (now White House chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel from the Illinois fifth district: labor lawyer and writer Thomas H. Geoghegan Jr. ’71, J.D. ’74.