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Benjamin Franklin’s Retirement and Reinvention

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 04:41:50 +0000

Benjamin Franklin’s Retirement and Reinvention William N. Thorndike Benjamin Franklin’s Retirement and ReinventionTwo hundred and seventy years ago this month, aged 42 and weeks from the midpoint of his long life, Benjamin Franklin did something highly unusual. He retired. Specifically, he sat down at a perennially cluttered desk in his cramped Philadelphia print shop and signed an innovative “Co-Partnership” agreement with his foreman, David Hall. The document was a scant two pages in length, but it immediately changed the trajectory of Franklin’s life and career. Not coincidentally, later that year Franklin hired the distinguished Colonial artist Robert Feke to paint his portrait (now held in the Portrait Collection of the Harvard Art Museums) and record this pivotal moment for posterity. Franklin’s retirement (memorialized in his best-selling autobiography) helped establish the modern concept of a multi-career life and ranks among his great inventions. The transaction gave 50 percent ownership of his firm to Hall. Franklin’s printing business was unlike any other in the Colonies: in the eighteenth century, printing was an inherently local trade focused on small business and government customers, and staple products like stationery, legal notices, currency, invoices, and invitations. Franklin cracked this parochial model open along two dimensions: as publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper and the wildly popular Poor Richard’s Almanac, he was a substantial owner of copyrights. He was also a sort of pioneering venture capitalist, providing custom-designed presses to aspiring printers in far-flung places (New York, Newport, Charleston, even Antigua) in return for a share in the profits.Franklin was anxious to move on to other activities, but in the embryonic economy of mid-eighteenth century Philadelphia, the option of selling his firm did not exist. There were no investment bankers, no Googles or Amazons voraciously looking for acquisitions. The outline of the deal with Hall was based on the template created in his earlier printing investments and was designed to solve this problem by guaranteeing Franklin the next best thing to an outright sale: a long-term passive income.There is an elegant simplicity about the entire arrangement with Hall. (Two pages! Today’s equivalent would be at least 25 times that length.) In return for the contracts, copyrights, type, and presses, Franklin received 50 percent of the profits for an 18-year period. The deal would prove highly lucrative for both parties. Over the term of the agreement, Franklin’s annual dividends averaged over 450 pounds, about three times the earnings of a prosperous lawyer (think John Adams) and almost 20 times a clerk’s wages. This income was the foundation of his economic independence, freeing him up for new forays into science and politics. Tradespeople didn’t typically retire in the eighteenth century, particularly in their early forties. By leaving his business, Franklin wasn’t just changing professions, he was shifting classes—trespassing.There is a quality of impatience about Franklin at this time, a desire to get on with it. He almost immediately moved to a new house in a more expensive Philadelphia neighborhood, and—weeks after signing with Hall—wrote to tell a friend, Cadwallader Colden, about the purchase of a new electrical ”apparatus” to pursue “experiments with great alacrity.” There was little time for shuffleboard.In the ensuing years, in addition to his seminal work on electricity, Franklin would do a pretty good imitation of a Colonial whirling dervish, involving himself extensively in regional politics and diplomacy. In fact, the Franklin that emerges post-retirement looks a bit like the Thomas Cromwell character in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall: an omnicompetent polymath capable of negotiating a treaty, raising a militia, or setting up a postal service (he would eventually do all three). His electricity findings were published in 1751 and would provide the foundation of his Enlightenme[...]

Harvard Must Hold New Graduate-Student Union Election

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 17:18:31 +0000

Harvard Will Likely Hold New Graduate-Student Union Election
vote count hgsu uaw new election

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has completed a final vote count for the graduate-student union election that took place in November 2016, finding that 1,526 students voted against forming a labor union and 1,396 voted in favor. This outcome has been widely expected, because of an earlier NLRB decision ordering a new election if the final count did not result in a victory for the union. Today’s tally means the University will need to hold a new election.

Last spring, after months of protracted hearings and disputes over voter eligibility following Harvard’s graduate-student union election, the regional NLRB had invalidated the results of that election and ordered a new one, after finding that the University did not provide a complete list of eligible voters prior to the election, which created confusion about eligibility: “The employer’s failure to provide a complete voter list interfered with the employees’ exercise of a free and reasoned choice.” Harvard challenged that decision and, last month, the NLRB rejected the appeal, arguing that “it raises no substantial issues warranting review.”  

Both Harvard and the Harvard Graduate Student Union-United Auto Workers have one week to contest the results of the final tally. A new election is likely to take place in the coming months. 

The graduate-student unionization election has been contested for a year, after an initial vote count indicated that 1,457 students had voted against unionizing and 1,272 voted in favor. But about 300 ballots remained uncounted because their eligibility remained contested. In April, an NLRB report found that 195 of those ballots were eligible, and that, consistent with the union’s objections to the election, Harvard had not provided a complete and accurate list of eligible voters, potentially preventing some students from voting, and thus should hold a new election. Harvard’s appeal of this ruling argued that the vote count should stand, and that most students who had been omitted from the list had still voted: 336 of 533 omitted students had cast ballots, out of an electorate of 4,475. 


Thu, 11 Jan 2018 15:50:52 +0000

Harvard basketball: a midseason report David L. Tannenwald basketball 2018 midseason reportAt first, the message seemed strange. After a 74-63 victory over Boston University in late December, Stemberg men’s basketball coach Tommy Amaker wrote on the whiteboard in the team’s locker room that the Crimson were 2-0.The team’s record was actually 5-6, but as Weisner Perez ’19 explained, the coach was developing a theme he had introduced after the team’s 79-70 loss to Kentucky. Amaker pointed out that the Crimson had played competitively with one of the best teams in the country and that they should therefore act as though they had a “clean slate” and were 0-0. The BU win—paired with Harvard’s 47-45 victory over Fordham in its previous game—made its record 2-0.“The key thing,” said Perez of the forward-looking approach, “is just keep getting better.”Five games later, the Crimson have significant room for improvement. Although Harvard won its Ivy opener over Dartmouth 61-51 on Saturday, the Crimson dropped its final four non-conference games, including yesterday’s 63-62 setback at Wofford College. As the team focuses on Ivy play, it is trying to solidify its lineup and improve its shooting and man-to-man defense.Shifting LineupsThe game notes for Harvard’s late-December contest at Minnesota included a curious tidbit: 16 Harvard players had started a game this season, the most of any team in the country to that point.Although versatility is a virtue, that much turnover hints at challenges. One is illness and injury: numerous Harvard players caught a virus and missed games during a Thanksgiving tournament in California, and Bryce Aiken ’20, the team’s leading scorer, has missed five of the last six games (and played only sparingly against Dartmouth) following a knee injury.But Amaker has also benched his regular starters. Against BU, he started five players who up to that point in the season had played a combined 11 minutes. The coach said that he wanted to reward the players who had competed hardest in practice; he was also sending a message to the normal first unit—which came off the bench later—that he expected them to play harder.The unorthodox lineup staked the Crimson to a 10-3 lead against BU. But the same group fell behind 5-0 in the next game at George Washington, contributing to a 58-48 loss. That loss will not prove too costly if Harvard does reach the NCAA tournament (though its non-conference performance will hurt its seeding). The bigger challenge is whether the lineup shifts and injuries will make it harder for the players’ roles to crystallize; discontinuity can lead to problems on the court—turnovers, miscommunication, and defensive lapses.After the team’s home win over Dartmouth, Amaker said he felt that the regular starters had responded well to his message. But, he continued—citing the team’s performance in practice, injuries, and matchups—“I wouldn’t be surprised if things were to change again.”Shooting WoesAnother issue is shooting. Harvard is 40.5 percent from the field and 29.5 percent on three-point attempts—the worst in the Ivy League in both categories. Several talented shooters are performing inconsistently. Seth Towns ’20, the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.2 points per game, is Harvard’s most accurate three-point shooter (39.7 percent), but he is shooting just 38.3 percent overall and made only four of 20 field-goal attempts at Minnesota. Corey Johnson ’19, the team’s best three-point shooter as a freshman and sophomore, has made just 34.5 percent of his treys this year.It is possible that being on the road for 10 of 16 contests has contributed to this subpar performance: travel can increase fatigue, and it can be harder to shoot against unfamiliar backdrops. Another variable is the quality of shots. Particularly against Kentucky and Minnesota, the Crimson faced athletic defenses and contested looks. And with Aiken injured, Harvard has been without its best pla[...]

Overseer and HAA Director Candidates

Fri, 05 Jan 2018 17:05:00 +0000

Harvard Overseer and HAA Director official candidates for 2018
overseer and director candidates 2018

This spring, alumni can vote for new Harvard Overseers and Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) elected directors. Ballots (mailed out by April 1) must be received at the indicated address by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on May 15 to be counted. All holders of Harvard degrees, except Corporation members and officers of instruction and government, are entitled to vote for Overseer candidates. The election for HAA directors is open to all Harvard degree-holders.

Candidates for Overseer may also be nominated by petition. Eligible voters may go to for more information. The deadline for all petitions is February 1.


The HAA Nominating Committee has proposed the following candidates in 2018:
For Overseer (six-year term):

Geraldine Acuña-Sunshine ’92, M.P.P. ’96, Manila, Republic of the Philippines, and Boston. President, Sunshine Care Foundation for Neurological Care and Research.

Philip Hart Cullom, M.B.A. ’88, Gaithersburg, Maryland. Vice Admiral (retired), U.S. Navy.

Catherine A. Gellert ’93, New York City. Director, Windcrest Partners.

Meredith L. “Max” Hodges ’03, M.B.A. ’10, Boston. Executive director, Boston Ballet.

Marilyn Holifield, J.D. ’72. Miami. Partner, Holland & Knight LLP.

John C. Lechleiter, A.M. ’80, Ph.D. ’80, Indianapolis. Retired president, CEO, and chairman, Eli Lilly and Company.

Diego A. Rodriguez, M.B.A. ’01, Palo Alto. Executive vice president, chief product and design officer, Intuit Inc.

Yvette Roubideaux ’85, M.D. ’89, M.P.H. ’97, Washington, D.C. Director, Policy Research Center, National Congress of American Indians.

For elected director (three-year term):

Eric R. Calderon, M.B.A. ’13, Houston. President and CEO, L-K Industries.

Collette Creppell ’82, M.Arch. ’90, Providence, Rhode Island, and New Orleans. University architect, Brown University.

Sid Espinosa, M.P.P. ’00, Palo Alto. Director of philanthropy and civic engagement, Microsoft.

Natosha Reid Rice ’93, J.D. ’97, Atlanta. Associate general counsel, real estate and finance, Habitat for Humanity International; associate pastor, historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Krishnan Namboodiri Subrahmanian ’03, Minneapolis. Attending pediatrician, Hennepin County Medical Center and the University of Minnesota; maternal child health specialist, Partners in Health (COPE Program).

Rita Pang ’96, Hong Kong. Co-founder and counsel, Bridgeway Prime Shop Fund Management Ltd.

Matthew Temple ’86, Los Angeles. Director, alumni career and professional development, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

Bella T. Wong ’82, Ed.M. ’91, Weston, Massachusetts. Superintendent/Principal, Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School.

Rashid Muhammed Yasin, S.B. ’12, Nashville. Ph.D. student, Vanderbilt University.

Harvard Faces Endowment Tax

Thu, 21 Dec 2017 14:42:32 +0000

Congress taxes Harvard, other endowments John S. Rosenberg Congress taxes Harvard, other endowmentsThe tax changes enacted yesterday by the Republican majorities in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and awaiting signing into law by President Donald Trump impose a tax on a few dozen college and university endowments’ investment income—but they did not incorporate most of the other features that most alarmed the higher-education community (see “Taxing Matters”). Thus, graduate students do not face an onerous cash tax bill for the imputed income associated with their (typically waived) tuition bills, nor do students and families face the loss of the deductions associated with interest on their education loans. Universities and colleges can still resort to the tax-exempt bond market to finance construction projects.But the issue that most troubled Harvard’s leaders, and those of a couple of dozen other fortunate institutions, has become law: colleges and universities whose endowments exceed $500,000 per student, and that have more than 500 students, are now subject to a 1.4 percent tax on annual investment earnings. The roster of affected schools begins with Princeton and extends through Yale, Harvard, Stanford , and MIT, through colleges such as Pomona, Amherst, Swarthmore, Grinnell, and Williams.The exact impact awaits university calculations after the final details of the legislation are analyzed. Given the formula, more schools could become subject to the provision as their endowments appreciate or as they enroll more students—and of course, revenue-hungry lawmakers could easily boost the government’s take in the future. In the near term, President Drew Faust estimated that Harvard would have had to pay about $40 million on its investment earnings during the fiscal year ended last June 30 (see here for the calculations). The longer term is less calculable, and perhaps of greater concern: if endowment earnings increase, so will the levy; and revenue-hungry legislators could always increase the tax rate, now that the precedent exists.Furthermore, the tax law both increased the standard deduction for individuals and families, which may make prospective donors less eager to act philanthropically (since the value of itemizing charitable deductions is diminished), and limited the deduction for state and local tax payments and deductions for interest payments on future large mortgages—both of which raise the costs for many prospective donors.Now that endowment earnings themselves may be taxed, it is also possible that donors will become more interested in making project-specific, term-limited grants, rather than permanent endowment gifts (see the structure of the recent $12-million grant by Priscilla Chan ’07 to support public-service activities at Phillips Brooks House Association). The new tax is an additional, and highly visible, wrinkle that financially sophisticated donors may consider when deciding how to structure their philanthropic support for elite colleges and universities. That comes just as those institutions are worrying about the ability of their heavily endowment-dependent financial models to support research, teaching, libraries and other academic infrastructure, and financial aid.A Harvard Gazette article on the tax law quotes Faust as saying:I am deeply concerned that the adoption of an unprecedented excise tax on charitable organizations that targets certain colleges and universities will weaken our ability to support students and research. The provision will constrain the resources that enable us to provide the financial aid that makes college more affordable and accessible and to undertake the inquiries that yield discoveries, cures, innovation, and economic growth.We will assess the damaging impacts of this tax legislation moving forward, and we will continue to engage policy makers in substantive conversations on higher education finance to ensure a deeper[...]

North Carolina Firm Buys Brattle Street Buildings

Tue, 19 Dec 2017 17:01:01 +0000

North Carolina Firm Buys Brattle Street Buildings

North Carolina-based real-estate investment-management firm Asana Partners are the newest property owners in Harvard Square. This summer, the Dow-Stearns Family Trust decided to sell 1-8 Brattle Street and 17-41 Brattle Street, which currently house small businesses like Cardullo's Gourmet Shoppe and Black Ink. The $108-million sale is part of a much broader shift in Harvard Square's identity.

Asana is not the only out-of-town voice playing a key role in the Square’s evolution and potential redevelopment. Regency Centers Corporation, a real-estate investment trust from Jacksonville, Florida, is behind “The Collection at Harvard Square” project which will turn the flatiron-style Abbott Building into a commercial shopping mall. Community groups like the Harvard Square Neighborhood Association and Our Harvard Square have been asking the city of Cambridge for increased transparency for construction plans in the Square, so as to keep changes as accountable to Cantabrigians as possible. 

Local residents who have expressed opposition to the plans for “The Collection at Harvard Square” can rest easy about the new owner across the street, for now, as Sam Judd, a managing director at Asana Partners, says the firm has “no plans at all” to build another mall, even though 17-41A Brattle has zoning permission for up to eight additional stories. “We’re not going to change the footprint of Harvard Square. For example, with 17-41A Brattle, that building is going to get a good power washing, and the awnings are kind of ugly. We’d like to improve the general aesthetic.” Asana is particularly concerned with quickly finding a vibrant and attractive tenant to fill the now-vacant Hidden Sweets storefront at 25 Brattle Street, but has not yet decided whether that tenant will be a local business like neighboring Crema Cafe, or a large chain like Urban Outfitters just across the street. “If you look at our other projects, there’s a good mix of local, regional, and national retail. You can expect to see us bring the same to Harvard Square.” 

Denise Jillson, director of the Harvard Square Business Association, says she was pleased by the initiative Judd has shown with regards to the sale. “He seems to want to come in and clean things up a bit, and he reached out to us at HSBA after Asana connected with all the tenants in the two buildings on Brattle Street.” Jillson also feels optimistic about Asana’s ability to do critical maintenance work on the Brattle buildings (the HSBA is a tenant), saying that the buildings are in need of electrical, heating, and ventilation improvements. 

“Ultimately, we’d love to figure out a way to keep interesting local tenants around long-term, especially those who have expressed a desire to stick around,” says Judd. “We want to engage with Harvard Square and add some new life with the tenants we bring to the two buildings on Brattle Street.”

Toward a Zika Vaccine

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 19:00:00 +0000

Zika Vaccine Development Reveals Differences in Efficacy One Year On Jonathan Shaw Zika Vaccine By Dan Barouch 100 percent effective after one yearResearchers have made a surprising discovery in their search for a vaccine against Zika, a virus that can cause pregnant women to bear children with small heads (microcephaly) and other birth defects. The disease has infected more than 5,000 people from 49 U.S. states since a 2015 outbreak, mostly during travel abroad, and hundreds of thousands more in South America. Of the U.S. cases, 223—in Florida and Texas—have been attributed to local transmission from infected mosquitoes. Although rates of transmission are low now, if the virus and its mosquito carrier spread into new regions, deployment of a vaccine will be a key public-health defense against future outbreaks. A little more than a year ago, researchers announced the promising test results of three different candidate vaccines. In mice and then rhesus monkeys, all three provided strong protection within weeks against Zika. As a result, two of those vaccines—a traditional version based on an inactivated Zika virus, and another, experimental, type based on DNA that causes cells to produce proteins present in the Zika virus in order to induce an immune response—were quickly deployed in Phase 1 human clinical trials to determine their safety and appropriate dosages (see this magazine’s earlier story “Studying Zika”). But new tests, a year after the monkeys were initially inoculated, have revealed surprising differences in the vaccines’ efficacy. At the one-year mark, the DNA vaccine was no longer effective, reports professor of medicine Dan Barouch, director of Harvard Medical School’s Center for Virology and Vaccine Research (CVVR) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center today in Science Translational Medicine (STM). The team, including CVVR’s Peter Abbink, Rafael Larocca, and other colleagues there and at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and at Bioqual, an animal-testing facility, did find that the vaccine based on an inactivated Zika virus (administered in two doses, four weeks apart) provided robust protection to 75 percent of rhesus monkeys after one year, a good result. But the third vaccine they had created—delivered by an adenovirus, the family that causes severe colds—proved even more effective, providing 100 percent protection to the monkeys with just a single immunization, even a year after administration. Furthermore, they were able to establish the threshold concentration of antibodies that conferred full immunity on the monkeys (though those thresholds are likely to be different in humans). The researchers found that the level of circulating antibodies against the Zika virus was the key to all three vaccines’ effectiveness. The Zika-neutralizing antibodies were lowest in animals given the DNA vaccine, and highest in those that had received the vaccine via an adenovirus vector. “Adenovirus vector-based vaccines are typically more potent than DNA vaccines,” reports Barouch. But why that should be so, the researchers write in their paper, “remains to be determined.” Their work not only demonstrates the importance of testing vaccines for long-lasting immunity, but is also likely to be useful for development of a human Zika vaccine and, notes the editor of STM, is “instructive for vaccine development in general.”Although adenovirus vectors take longer to produce than other kinds of vaccines, phase 1 trials of this vaccine type have now begun, and phase 2 clinical trials to test the efficacy of all three vaccines will follow. “With Zika transmission now quite low,” however, notes Barouch, “it will be very difficult to conduct traditional human efficacy trials.” This makes the regulatory path, and timeline for approval of any Zika vaccine, hard to predict. “For example, will the FDA r[...]

Bryan Stevenson on the Shadow of White Supremacy

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 17:21:38 +0000

Bryan Stevenson on the Evolution of White Supremacy Lydialyle Gibson Bryan Stevenson Tanner Lecture white supremacy slaveryThe audience could sense where the story was going almost as soon as Bryan Stevenson began telling it. Two black children in the barely desegregated South, hurtling with giddy, unguarded elation toward their first swim in a pool that until recently had been available only to whites. A swim they’d been dreaming of for years. As Stevenson, J.D.-M.P.A.’85, LL.D. ’15, kept talking, an electricity of unease began to intensify among the listeners packed into First Parish Church last week—as many people as the pews would hold—who’d come to hear him deliver Harvard’s 2017 Tanner Lecture on Human Values, hosted by the Mahindra Humanities Center.  A civil-rights lawyer who for three decades has defended death-row inmates and fought for criminal-justice reform from a warehouse-turned-office in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, Stevenson is a MacArthur “genius” grant recipient, a New York University law professor, and founder and executive director of the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative. Next April that organization will dedicate a memorial in Montgomery honoring, by name, more than 4,000 victims of lynching across the southern United States. A museum tracing the history of racial inequality from slavery to mass incarceration will stand nearby. “I don’t think slavery ended in 1865,” Stevenson told the audience last Wednesday. “I think it just evolved. I think it turned into decades of terrorism and violence and lynching. The era of lynching was devastating. It created a shadow all over this country, and we haven’t talked about it, we haven’t confronted it, we haven’t thought about it.”Stevenson, whose speeches thread the heaving cadences of a sermon with the stark assertions of a summation, came to Cambridge last Wednesday to talk about memory and forgetting and legacy and liberation and a brokenness several centuries deep. He’d come to talk, he said, about narrative—how we think about it, live our lives through it, find ourselves and our world shaped by it—and about the cultural narrative that he insisted again and again must be changed. That narrative, he argued, presumes African Americans are inherently dangerous and guilty, more deserving of punishment, less capable of achievement; it is a “narrative of fear and anger,” Stevenson said, that upholds white supremacy. “Fear and anger,” he added, “are the essential ingredients of injustice.” Fear and anger allow societies to tolerate intolerable abuse.In the United States, lynchings proliferated through the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. “Black people were pulled out of their homes,” Stevenson said. “They were murdered. They were hanged. They were beaten. They were brutalized. We created one of the largest mass migrations the world has ever seen. Millions of people fled the American South during the twentieth century.” Stevenson’s maternal grandparents were among them, moving from Virginia to Philadelphia, where his mother was born. “The black people that went to Cleveland and Chicago and Detroit, that went to Boston, that went to Los Angeles and Oakland—they didn’t come to those communities as immigrants looking for new economic opportunities. They came to these communities as refugees and exiles from terror in the American South.”But first: “I want to talk about how I got here.” That swimming pool. The giddy elation. Growing up in rural—and, for a time, still segregated—southern Delaware, Stevenson and his younger sister had always watched white children playing in the public pool (which closed as soon as integration came) and the hotel pools along the boardwalk (which his family couldn’t afford). “It looked like it was the most joyous, glorious thing a child coul[...]

Final Clubs: The Lingering Aftermath

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 16:16:26 +0000

Harvard final-club sanctions aftermath John S. Rosenberg Harvard final-club sanctions falloutAs previously reported, the Harvard Corporation has adopted a policy that prohibits undergraduate members of unrecognized single-gender social organizations (USGSOs: final clubs, fraternities, and sororities) from holding leadership positions in recognized organizations or athletic teams, or receiving the College’s required endorsement for fellowships such as Rhodes and Marshall scholarships. In the wake of the process that resulted in that decision, extending from May 2016 through this fall semester, several observations seem in order, ranging from lingering issues about governance and enforcement to the efficacy of the policy itself.• “Faculty engagement.” The second sentence in the statement by President Drew Faust and Corporation senior fellow William F. Lee conveying that body’s decision, read by Faust to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) meeting on December 5, notes, “We appreciate the intense involvement of the Faculty on an issue….”It is perhaps worth remembering that the faculty was initially kept from engaging on the issue, because the sanctions policy was outlined by the May 6, 2016, letter from Harvard College dean Rakesh Khurana to Faust, who in turn accepted his recommendations. The issue came before the full faculty for discussion only because opponents of the policy made a motion to overturn it, forcing it onto the formal FAS-meeting agenda—where it became the subject of protracted discussions, a Faculty Council motion to postpone consideration, and subsequent revision and further parliamentary maneuvering after the College considered further sanction measures (including an outright ban on membership in USGSOs).Looking to the future, the Faust and Lee statement outlined a process for assessing the policy, and procedures for faculty members to weigh in, while carefully navigating around any further invitation to deeper engagement or legislation:The Corporation has explicitly voted that the policy be reviewed after five years and the resulting report presented to and discussed by the Faculty. The President has conferred with the Deans of the Faculty and the College, who will ask the standing Committee on Student Life to ensure that the College has an ongoing understanding about how the undergraduate experience is evolving in light of the policy. The College expects to ask the Committee, as part of its charge, to make periodic, interim reports to the Faculty and the Deans. We also encourage members of the Faculty to remain engaged on issues affecting the quality of undergraduate life and to share thoughts and observations with the Committee and the Deans.Faculty members who argued that student-life policy was a matter for FAS enactment—meaning that the transfer of authority to the College dean’s office, the Harvard administration, or the Corporation was at odds with the norms of University governance—are unlikely to be comforted by this fait accompli.• The student handbook. The policy still might come before the faculty for a vote, if it is deemed that its substance and enforcement procedures belong in the student handbook. Not every policy is represented in the handbook, and the Faust-Lee statement carefully describes the USGSO sanctions as a matter of student choice (as to whether to belong to an unrecognized group), not as a disciplinary matter (it reads, “The policy does not discipline or punish the students…”).In response to a query about this matter, Khurana provided this statement: “Now that we have an approved USGSO policy in place, we will be turning our attention back to its implementation, and should proposed changes to the handbook emerge from that process, we will bring forward those changes to the faculty for their approval as part of our[...]

College Admits 14.5 Percent of Early-Action Applicants

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000

College Admits 14.5 Percent of Early-Action Applicants early action 14.5 percentTHE COLLEGE has admitted 14.5 percent of early-action applicants to the class of 2022, the same percentage as last year, the admissions office announced today. Of the 6,630 students who applied through the program, 964 were admitted.The admissions office reports that “all measures of economic diversity” have improved for this year’s early-action applicants: “First-generation college students comprise nearly 10.6 percent of the early admitted students compared to 8.7 percent last year. Nearly 58 percent have applied for financial aid so far, up from 57 percent past year, and nearly 13 percent requested an application fee waiver, well over the 10.7 percent last year.” The eventual proportion of first-generation students, including admits from both early- and regular-decision groups, tends to be somewhat higher. Last year, 15.1 percent of all admitted students were first-generation. The College does not disclose the socioeconomic profile of admitted classes, but about 16 percent of current undergraduates receive federal Pell Grants (used as a proxy for low-income status), and 20 percent of students come from families earning $65,000 or less. African-American students make up 13.9 of early admits, compared to 12.6 percent of last year’s group. Asian-American students make up 24.2 percent of admits, compared to 21.7 percent last year (and notable in light of a recent lawsuit alleging that Harvard discriminates against Asian-Americans in admissions); Latinos make up 9.8 percent (8.8 percent last year); and 1.8 percent of admitted students identify as Native American or Native Hawaiian, compared to 1.1 percent last year. In 2006, Harvard abandoned its non-binding early-action program, arguing that early-admission programs favored applicants from affluent families. Only Princeton and the University of Virginia made similar reforms, while early-admissions programs at other colleges continued to expand. Harvard and Princeton both brought back early action in 2011. “Early admission appears to be the ‘new normal,’” dean of admissions and financial aid William R. Fitzsimmons said last year.As ever, University officials credit the strength of Harvard’s formidable financial-aid program—which makes the College free for families earning less than $65,000 and heavily discounted for families making up to $150,000—with attracting applicants. Total cost of attendance, before financial aid, exceeded $65,000 for the first time in the current year, and in recent years has been climbing around 4 percent annually. “Thanks to our generous need-based aid and no loan requirement, Harvard costs the same or less than most public universities for 90 percent of American families,” said Sarah C. Donahue, Griffin director of financial aid. Freshmen from families earning $65,000 or less will also receive $2,000 “start-up” grants that they can spend on anything they choose, including books, meals out, or winter clothing; the 2018-2019 academic year will mark the third year of the program’s three-year pilot period.Read Harvard’s announcement here. [...]

Federal NLRB Rejects Harvard’s Appeal in Grad-Student Union Case

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 19:52:53 +0000

Federal NLRB Rejects Harvard’s Appeal in Grad Student Union Case Marina N. Bolotnikova Federal NLRB Rejects Harvard’s Appeal in Grad Student Union Case The federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) today rejected Harvard’s challenge to an earlier NLRB decision that had ordered a new graduate-student union election. Earlier this year, the regional NLRB had ruled to invalidate the results of Harvard’s November 2016 graduate-student union election and order a new election, arguing that the University did not provide a complete list of eligible voters prior to the election, which created confusion about eligibility: “The employer’s failure to provide a complete voter list interfered with the employees’ exercise of a free and reasoned choice.” Harvard had appealed that decision to the national NLRB, which ruled today that the challenge “is denied as it raises no substantial issues warranting review.” “As academic workers, we have a legal right to bargain together to improve our working conditions. Providing incomplete voter lists and appealing labor law precedent is antithetical to the principles of democracy, and today Harvard administrators saw that it won’t work. Now we can refocus on rallying, organizing, and talking to our colleagues about why a union is so necessary at Harvard,” said Jocelyn Fuentes, a Ph.D. candidate in earth and planetary sciences, in a union press release. Members of the Harvard Graduate Student Union-United Auto Workers (HGSU-UAW) had been organizing thoughout this semester to urge Harvard to drop the appeal. The graduate-student unionization election has been contested for a year, after an initial vote count indicated that more students had voted against forming a union than for one. But about 300 ballots remained uncounted because their eligibility remained contested. Updated December 15, 2017, 2 p.m. In April, an NLRB report found that 195 of those ballots were eligible, and that, consistent with the union’s objections to the election, Harvard had not provided a complete and accurate list of eligible voters, potentially preventing some students from voting, and thus should hold a new election. Harvard’s appeal of this ruling argued that the vote count should stand, and that most students who had been omitted from the list had still voted: 336 of 533 omitted students had cast ballots, out of an electorate of 4,475. “The University continues to believe the November 2016 student unionization election was fair and that well-informed students turned out in high numbers to vote,” said University spokesperson Anna Cowenhoven. “It is disappointing that the NLRB has not upheld our students’ decision to vote against unionization in that election.”Graduate-student union elections have been held at many private universities since the NLRB ruled in August 2016 that graduate students engaged in paid research or teaching as part of their degree programs should be considered employees, and thus have the right to unionize. The prospect of a new election offers HGSU-UAW the opportunity to renew its long organizing campaign and persuade more students of the benefits of unionization. Meanwhile, the political climate has shifted significantly since the initial union election: Congress is in reconciliation for a bill (which Harvard opposes) that could impose huge tax burdens on graduate students across the country—making many more students politically active and concerned for their financial welfare, and threatening the viability of graduate education in general. Graduate student organizers have also feared that a reconstituted NLRB under president Donald Trump could reverse the right of students to unionize. A footnote to today’s decision notes that Harvard’s narrow app[...]

Sexual Harassment and Assault Complaints Increased 65 Percent Last Year

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 14:44:02 +0000

Sexual Harassment and Assault Complaints Increased 65 Percent Last Year Oset Babür title-ix-at-harvardA new report released by the Title IX Office and the Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR) shares three years of data about gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault at Harvard. In the past year, the number of formal complaints filed with the ODR has risen by 65 percent, from 26 to 43­­—a number that the office partially attributes to increased community awareness about the University’s resources. “This report is a direct response to community feedback to provide more data about who’s filing complaints about whom, what the types of allegations are, and what the outcomes look like,” said Bill McCants, director of the ODR, the office that implements Harvard’s gender-based harassment policy.McCants says that in addition to strong attendance at training sessions across campus, he is encouraged by the data that show members of the community are coming forth with a wide range of complaints, not just sexual assault. “Sexual assault is obviously concerning, but our data shows that sexual harassment of other kinds is also a very important problem at Harvard.” The report breaks down complaints into nine different categories, including “sexual assault with penetration,” and “sexual harassment: verbal, written, graphic, photo, film, and by eyeing.” Of the complaints filed between 2014 and 2017, the largest number fell under sexual harassment, followed closely by complaints about sexual assault with unwelcome touching.Between 2014 and 2017, 43 percent of complaints were found not to be violations of Harvard’s sexual assault and harassment policy, while another 43 percent were found in violation. An additional 5 percent were found not in violation but resulted in sanctions, and 9 percent reached an informal resolution mutually agreed to by the accusing and accused parties.In the 2016-2017 academic year, 30 percent of complainants were undergraduates, 36 percent graduate and professional students, 12 percent staff members, and 6 percent faculty members. Nearly half of complaints reported last year were resolved before proceeding to a formal investigation, according to the report, “through administrative closure, withdrawal, or referral to the appropriate School or Unit.” Among the most important changes outlined in the report is that the Title IX Office and the Office for Dispute Resolution have now been divided into two separate offices, said Nicole Merhill, University Title IX officer. The Title IX Office supports members of the Harvard community who choose to disclose an incident of sexual assault or harassment (more than 250 disclosures were made in the last year) and does not share information about an initial complaint with the ODR. The ODR deals with formal, disciplinary investigations for complainants who choose to pursue them. “One of our biggest goals is ensuring that individuals have agency over what happens when they file a complaint,” said McCants. “Members of this community have the opportunity to withdraw a complaint for a variety of good reasons, whether it be because they feel the issue has been resolved, or because they don’t feel equipped to deal with it in the moment, but may wish to re-file at a later time.”The report comes during a time when sexual harassment and assault policies at many universities are under renewed scrutiny. Earlier this year, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos withdrew the Obama administration’s guidelines on sexual harassment and assault, which had directed schools to use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard (meaning that it is more likely than not that an accused student is guilty) for investigating those cas[...]

Harvard Files Plan for Allston “Innovation” District

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 16:44:52 +0000

Harvard Files Plan for Allston “Innovation” District Marina N. Bolotnikova allston erc planHarvard has publicly filed its proposal to develop its “enterprise research campus” (ERC), a non-academic, commercial “innovation” district in Allston just south of Harvard Business School (HBS) and east of the new science and engineering complex. The filing triggers a 45-day period for public comment, after which the Boston Public Development Agency will consider the plan for approval. It covers an initial phase of what may, over time, become a much larger commercial district.University officials had presented the proposal to Allston residents last week, many of whom voiced a ramge of concerns with the plan. Kevin Casey, Harvard’s associate vice president for public affairs and communications, said that the meeting “reinforced our view that we needed to move the filing forward so that we could get the full document out for people to refer to, because we felt limited in how we could respond to the questions [at the meeting] because people weren’t able to see how comprehensive the document would be.” The Planned Development Area (PDA) Master Plan proposes developing a 14-acre parcel of land (see first schematic above)—itself a part of the larger, 36-acre ERC plot that has sat largely empty since the University acquired it in 2000. It anticipates 900,000 square feet of developed space just south of Western Avenue: 400,000 square feet of office and lab space; 250,000 square feet of residential space; and a 250,000-square-foot hotel and conference center, already described and approved in a 2013 Institutional Master Plan (IMP) covering Harvard’s Allston campus. The proposed uses occupy just part of the 14-acre site; on much of the rest, Harvard envisions large surface parking lots for 800 to 900 vehicles; those lots themselves will eventually be developed. These proportions may still change significantly in later stages of planning. No specific developments have been submitted for approval; the University will seek private development partners for specific sites after the initial planning review and approval, when granted. The filing presented to Boston regulators yesterday outlines the use of a subset of the 14 acres, itself a subset of the larger 36-acre ERC. Longer term, when Massachusetts settles on a design for and reconstructs the nearby highway viaduct and intersection, a still-larger “Allston Landing South” tract would become available for redevelopment. So the current plan covers a small part of what may, over time, become a vastly larger project, of interest not only to current, nearby residents, but to the larger surrounding Boston and Cambridge communities. The economic and development impacts on, and potential for, the University also loom large. According to the planning document, Harvard’s hope is to draw on the energy of HBS and Harvard’s applied scientists and engineers (who are scheduled to move in for the 2020-2021 academic year), and to connect the area to the Longwood medical area and other local universities. “We really think that we’re going to be developing a community which will have other types of academic entities, business, not-for-profits, and residential amenities, to create a community that is a real vibrant, sustainable, ecological system,” said University executive vice president Katie Lapp.Road traffic and public transit access are of major concern both to Allston residents and the future occupants of the ERC. The proposal calls for new roads, including Cattle Drive, planned as the main north-south thoroughfare linking Western Avenue to Cambridge Street (use arrow to navigate to second rendering above), and East Drive, extending[...]

A Long Road

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 21:55:16 +0000

Harvard basketball: an early season report David L. Tannenwald basketball 2017 early season reportIn August 2012, Tommy Amaker welcomed an unusual visitor to Lavietes Pavilion: Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari. It was mostly a social call; Calipari was in town to visit his daughter. He dropped by practice as the Crimson prepared for a trip to Italy to play several local teams and tour the country, recalled Trey Grayson ’94, the team’s then faculty fellow and a former Kentucky secretary of state, in a phone interview last week.Still, there was subtext: after leading Harvard to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 66 years, Amaker was trying to build a squad that could contend with national powers like Kentucky. He had already competed with Calipari for a recruit, point guard Brandon Knight, who spent a year in Lexington and now plays for the Phoenix Suns in the NBA. He was also hoping to schedule a home-and-away series with Kentucky, swapping a trip to Lexington for another to the TD Garden.Last Saturday, that hope was half-realized when the Crimson took the floor at Kentucky’s famed Rupp Arena. (As of now, there are no plans for a reciprocal trip to the Garden.) Unfortunately, the result—a 79-70 loss to the then-seventh-ranked Wildcats—comes amid a disappointing 4-6 start to the season that has revealed just how far Harvard must go before competing on the national stage. This team, which was picked to finish first in the Ivy League on the strength of its highly touted sophomore class, has yet to show that it can develop the offensive balance, defensive identity, maturity, and resolve to compete for an Ivy title. Harvard HardwoodFollow the Crimson all season long! David L. Tannenwald ’08 will provide the latest news, game summaries, and insights as the Crimson chase an Ivy title. Offensive BalanceOn a Sunday afternoon in November, the bass in the locker room was thumping, easily overheard in the press room above where Bryce Aiken ’20 wore an ear-to-ear grin. The Crimson had just upended UMass 70-67 in overtime, and Aiken (30 points) had nailed the winning three. Nonetheless, the game highlighted a challenge. Only two players other than Aiken had scored in double figures: Chris Lewis ’20 had 15 points; Corey Johnson ’19 added 10. Since then, Lewis (12.9 points per game) has been a consistent scoring presence inside, but the rest of Harvard’s offense, apart from Aiken (who is averaging a team-high 17.6 points), has been streaky.  Not surprisingly, opponents are strategizing to contain Aiken. Last week, Northeastern deployed two players to press Aiken to slow him in transition. The Huskies won 77-61. (Aiken still managed 26 points, and Lewis 20, but no other Harvard player scored more than six). Similarly, at Manhattan College, the Jaspers pressed Aiken and attempted to double-team him before he could get a third dribble in the half court. The goal was to get the ball out of Aiken’s hands. It worked: Aiken scored just 12 points. “If somebody was going to beat us,” Manhattan coach Steve Masiello said after his team’s 73-69 win, “we weren’t going to let it be Bryce.”How can Harvard become more balanced?First, Aiken must become a great scorer and a great facilitator. Against St. Joseph’s, a Division One team from the respected Atlantic 10 Conference, he did that beautifully, tallying 21 points and eight assists in a 77-71 victory. Against MIT, though, Aiken had no assists, and Harvard squeaked by its less prominent Division Three opponent 73-64.Meanwhile, Seth Towns ’20 needs to perform more consistently. Amaker has called him the team’s “most important player”—a versatile six-foot-seven forward who ca[...]

Share Your Take on Harvard’s Social Club Sanctions

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 17:33:42 +0000

What’s Your Take on Harvard’s Social Club Sanctions?
Harvard’s Social Club Sanctions: A Call for Reactions

This week, the College announced that it would impose sanctions on all students (matriculating in the fall of 2017 or later) who join unrecognized single-gender social organizations, including final clubs, sororities, and fraternities. Those students won’t be allowed to hold leadership positions in any official student organizations or athletic teams, or to receive the required College endorsement for competitive fellowships like the Rhodes and Marshall. The sanctions have been intensely debated by students, faculty members, and alumni since they were originally announced in May 2016, raising questions about implementation, students’ freedom of association, and the role of the faculty in setting College policy. University president Drew Faust and senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation William F. Lee wrote in a statement announcing the policy earlier this week:

The final clubs in particular are a product of another era, a time when Harvard’s student body was all male, culturally homogenous, and overwhelmingly white and affluent. Our student body today is significantly different...While we should respect tradition, it is incumbent on us to organize the institution for the benefit of our current students and those who will follow. This requires us to create a community where students have the fair opportunity to engage in curricular and extracurricular activities regardless of their gender, socioeconomic status, or other attributes unrelated to merit…at least as an initial step, we should proceed in such a way as to give students both choice and agency in bringing about changes to the campus culture.

We invite members of the Harvard community to share their thoughts about the new policy. How should the University regulate student membership in outside, single-gender social clubs? We welcome perspectives from many sides of the issue, and look forward to sharing them and facilitating a productive dialogue. Please direct your response to

Harvard Imposes Single-Gender Social Club Sanctions

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 17:48:50 +0000

Harvard College Implements Social-Club Sanctions John S. Rosenberg Harvard College implements social-club sanctionsHarvard College will implement the sanctions on student membership in unrecognized single-gender social organizations (USGSOs: the final clubs, fraternities, and sororities) first announced by President Drew Faust and dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana in May 2016. The news came at the beginning of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) meeting this afternoon in University Hall, when Faust read a statement from herself and William F. Lee, senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation. The sanction measures (outlined in Khurana’s letter to Faust here) mean that students who choose to join a USGSO will not be permitted to hold a position of leadership in recognized student groups and organizations (numbering several hundred); nor to serve as the captain of an athletic team; nor to receive the required endorsement from the dean’s office when applying for certain competitive fellowships, such as Rhodes and Marshall scholarships, which require that institutional endorsement.The Faust and Lee statement (attached in full in the sidebar) says that the Corporation yesterday “identified the following framework” for a decision:“First, the University must act. The final clubs in particular are a product of another era, a time when Harvard’s student body was all male, culturally homogenous, and overwhelmingly white and affluent. Our student body today is significantly different.”“While we should respect tradition, it is incumbent on us to organize the institution for the benefit of our current students and those who will follow. This requires us to create a community where students have the fair opportunity to engage in curricular and extracurricular activities regardless of their gender, socioeconomic status, or other attributes unrelated to merit.”“…at least as an initial step, we should proceed in such a way as to give students both choice and agency in bringing about changes to the campus culture.”Accordingly, the Corporation voted to retain the May 2016 sanctions policy. Faust and Lee continue,The policy does not discipline or punish the students; it instead recognizes that students who serve as leaders of our community should exemplify the characteristics of non-discrimination and inclusivity that are so important to our campus. Ultimately, students have the freedom to decide which is more important to them: membership in a gender-discriminatory organization or access to those privileges and resources. The process of making those types of judgments, the struggle of defining oneself, one’s identity, and one’s responsibilities to a broader community, is a valuable part of the personal growth and self-exploration we seek for our undergraduates. The USGSOs, in turn, have the choice to become gender-neutral and thus permit their members full access to all institutional privileges.Their hope is that this policy “will be a powerful inducement to change.” The Corporation will revisit its decision in five years to see whether the desired changes have been effected.The USGSO Debate in ContextThe sanctions have nominally applied to the current freshmen, but have not taken effect as a practical matter: implementation was suspended this academic year while the FAS undertook protracted, heated discussion about the measures; and students typically do not join such social organizations until they are sophomores.The principal motion against the sanction measures (and a subsequent, broader proposal to simply prohibit membership in such organizations outright, beginning with classes enter[...]

Kennedy School’s Campus Makeover

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 18:08:08 +0000

Harvard Kennedy School campus makeover Marina N. Bolotnikova Harvard Kennedy School opens renovated campusThe Harvard Kennedy School’s (HKS) light and airy new campus, unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning, looks like an intentional antithesis to its older, stuffy buildings. As architect Graham Wyatt put it, “When we came to your campus, we found a group of buildings that had become outdated—I’m being charitable—and that had been built in a series of campaigns, leaving the school with a disjointed accommodation, ringing a courtyard, dominated by parking and a loading dock.”The new buildings create an inner ring within HKS’s campus and add about 91,000 square feet of classroom, office, and common spaces to the school, but its bright glass and wood materials make the space appear considerably larger. “We have gone from being a series of buildings to being a campus,” remarked former dean David Ellwood.“We’re here to mark a new era for a school that champions reasoned debate and informed governing,” said President Drew Faust at the ceremony. “The Harvard Kennedy School will continue to advance this important mission in this new and glorious space, a space that is going to enable learning, enhanced community, and enhanced vigorous and rigorous debate.”Leslie Wexner, a businessman and lead donor for the project for whom the Wexner Building is named, spoke about the “first connection” that he had with the institution, at an event for John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in Ohio, and his later connections with many of the University’s presidents. He and his wife, Abigail, have been the benefactors of a number of Harvard initiatives, including HKS’s Center for Public Leadership and the Wexner Israel Fellowship Program, which pays for Israeli public officials to study at the school. The Ofer Building, which connects the Taubman and Belfer Buildings along Eliot Street and houses a new student lounge, is named for Israeli donors Idan and Batia Ofer; in 2013, they also funded a fellowship for Israeli and Palestinian students to attend HKS.The construction was part of HKS’s now capital campaign, now winding down; it has also yielded five new endowed professorships, expanded financial aid, and other institutional initiatives. The campaign is chaired by David Rubenstein, a member of the Harvard Corporation and co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, the private-equity and investment-management firm, who remarked: “I want to remind everybody of one of the first universities created, almost 1,000 years ago, in Bologna. There were only students and teachers, and that’s what universities are, students and teachers—everything else is irrelevant….But we’ve learned over the years that we need buildings to make students and teachers work together well, and by having an extraordinary building, we can finally say that the Kennedy School has a building as good as the students and teachers in the school.”“This moment is going to be a transformative one for the Kennedy School,” said HKS dean Douglas Elmendorf. “Soon we will be concluding the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the school’s history, a campaign that was launched and led for a number years by David Ellwood and has raised crucial resources to build a new campus, provide financial aid for students who could not be here otherwise, and expand our efforts to tackle the key challenges of public policy and leadership across this country and around the world…Our buildings are the structural framework for our lives here, and we are so fortunate that our buildings are [...]

Harvard’s Expanding Allston Plans

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 17:23:13 +0000

Harvard’s Expanding Allston Plans Marina N. Bolotnikova enterprise research campus allstonLast night, University officials presented the proposed first steps toward developing its “enterprise research campus” (ERC)—a non-academic “innovation” district for established companies and startups, as well as a hotel and conference center, together with residential space—to a crowd of Allston residents at the Harvard Innovation Lab. The proposal, expected to be formally filed next week, is part of a regulatory submission that must be reviewed by Boston development authorities.The proposal outlines how a commercial entity might develop part of a 14-acre parcel of land (currently empty)—itself a part of the much larger, 36-acre ERC plot controlled by the University in Allston, not far from the Charles River and south of Western Avenue, across from Harvard Business School (HBS). The site is also near the new science and engineering complex, which is scheduled to accommodate much of the engineering and applied sciences faculty by 2020.The ERC plan anticipates 900,000 square feet of developed space just south of Western Avenue: 400,000 square feet of office and lab space; 250,000 square feet of residential space; a 250,000-square-foot hotel and conference center, already described and approved in an Institutional Master Plan (IMP) for Harvard’s Allston campus; and—on much of the rest of the site, large surface parking lots for 800 to 900 vehicles. These proportions are not binding, University officials said, and may change significantly in later stages of planning. The parking lots are meant to accommodate commuters, but only on an interim basis, said Harvard’s senior Allston planner, Harris Band; eventually, those sites will become available for development under the University’s long-term framework for the district. The concept for the district emerged in a 2011 report by Harvard’s Allston Work Team, which imagined that it would “‘open a gateway to a collaborative community for business, investment capital, research and science development’—in other words, a commercial facility similar to Research Triangle Park situated between three universities in North Carolina.” The idea is to draw on the energy of HBS and Harvard’s applied scientists and engineers, and to extend connections to the Longwood medical area and other local universities. But, Band stressed, “The vision is not just of a program, but of a place….We’re not just creating an office park here. We’re trying to create a real place...guided on the basis of sound planning principles that promote community,” so that it will “involve an active mix of uses” and have “resilient, sustainable infrastructure, accessed by walking, transit, and biking…and robust public grounds.” Although Harvard owns the land, it apparently does not plan to develop the area itself; it has not yet announced development partners for the site. (The Continuum complex, at the intersection of North Harvard Street and Western Avenue, was built by Samuels & Company, which leases the site from Harvard.)Although the formal proposal has not yet been filed with Boston authorities, Allston residents expressed a range of objections during the community meeting: the perceived vagueness of the plan, concerns about congestion and access to transportation along neighborhood streets, and the mix of the kinds of spaces and development planned for the plot. The 2013 IMP, for example, had rendered the district with significantly more green space than the new plan: An older rendering of the en[...]

Football 2017: Harvard 3, Yale 24

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 21:37:31 +0000

Crimson Football 2017: Harvard 3, Yale 24 Dick Friedman football 2017 harvard yaleNot our day. Not our year.On Saturday at the Yale Bowl, Harvard went to extreme lengths to prove that you can’t win if you can’t score. In the 134th playing of The Game, the Crimson—partly undone by two slippery option pitches—were humbled by the archrival Elis 24-3. Only a staunch effort by the Harvard defense kept the margin from being greater. The loss dropped the Crimson to 3-4 in the Ivy League (see standings below) and 5-5 overall, Harvard’s worst season since 2000. The victory—Yale’s second straight in The Game—gave the Elis a 6-1 league mark and a 9-1 overall finish. The triumph also allowed the Bulldogs to hold off Dartmouth and surprising Columbia and bring to New Haven Yale’s first outright Ivy title since 1980. The Crimson did not score a touchdown in the final nine quarters of the 2017 season, the longest such stretch of futility since the season of ’86—1986—when Harvard suffered three straight shutouts. On Saturday the Elis limited the Crimson to an anemic 164 yards of total offense, and a microscopic 26 yards rushing. Harvard played without its best runner, junior Charlie Booker III, who was out with an injury. That left the Crimson without a power back to negotiate a muddy field. But really…having Booker probably wouldn’t have changed the outcome.“The bottom line is, Yale is a terrific football team,” said Harvard coach Tim Murphy, whose record in The Game is now 17-7. “They’re by far the best football team in our league. They have no real weaknesses, and they deserved to win.”The Crimson’s high-water mark came on their first offensive series. Freshman quarterback Jake Smith engineered an 11-play, 55-yard drive that featured three completions to star wideout Justice Shelton-Mosley, the first for 21 yards, the second for nine and the third for 18. (Shelton-Mosley finished with a game-high seven grabs, for 77 yards.) This seemed like a plan, especially in the absence of Booker. But as so often happened late in the season, the drive bogged down in the shadow of the opponent’s goal. So sophomore Jake McIntyre came in and drilled a 29-yard field goal. Harvard 3, Yale 0.A punting battle ensued between Harvard senior Zach Schmid and Yale’s Alex Galland. Until the middle of the second quarter the Crimson defense held off the Elis, with senior linebacker and captain Luke Hutton halting one drive by intercepting Yale quarterback Kurt Rawlings. But in the middle of the quarter, Rawlings completed a 46-yard strike to wideout JP Shohfi, who reached the Harvard eight. On the next two plays the defense stopped Yale’s star freshman runner Zane Dudek in his tracks. (Dudek would finish with 64 yards on 25 carries.) But on third down Rawlings lobbed a beauty to Shohfi in the end zone. Galland kicked the extra point. Yale 7, Harvard 3.Then came the sequence that defined the game. When Harvard got the ball back, Smith was sacked on first down. On second down, he tried to run the option. He made a few yards—but when confronted by the Bulldogs’ Jason Alessi, he tried to get more, attempting a pitch to his trailer, freshman back Aaron Shampklin. Instead, Smith threw it behind Shampklin. The ball became free and was picked up by Yale’s Malcolm Dixon on the 19. Dixon ran it into the end zone. Galland again kicked. Yale 14, Harvard 3. Two touchdowns in 55 seconds.On the next series, at the Harvard 38, Smith and Shampklin failed to connect on yet another pitch and again Yale recovered. Rawlings and Yale he[...]

Plans for Allston ArtLab Move Forward

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 19:52:22 +0000

Harvard discusses plans for 9,000-square-foot arts space on Allston campus Sophia Nguyen plans for allston artlab move forwardHarvard plans to build a $12.5 million, temporary “ArtLab” in Allston, near its start-up workspaces and planned sciences and engineering complex. The University first announced the project on October 16, and then formally filed an amendment to its Institutional Master Plan with the Boston Planning Development Authority. On Thursday, officials presented design details to community residents at a Harvard Allston Task Force meeting. The 9,000-square-foot building will house performance spaces and art and recording studios. The floor-plan is designed in a pinwheel shape, with a common “hub” space at the center (for exhibitions or performances) and office, workshop, and video sound spaces surrounding it.Arts and humanities dean and Burden professor of photography Robin Kelsey traces the project back to the 2008 Report of the Task Force on the Arts, which recommended that Harvard “create a Hothouse to encourage arts-related collaborative projects” across media. Open to students and faculty members from all of Harvard’s schools, the ArtLab will support a growing desire to work across the disciplinary lines, he explains. It will also fill the basic need for more space, he adds: “We're bursting at the seams, generally, when it comes to our art-making activities.”The ArtLab will sit on a parcel of some 26,000 feet, at the corner of North Harvard Street and Western Avenue. “The dream for Allston is not to turn it into an engineering and science ghetto. The idea is to have a diverse range of intellectual, social, cultural activities taking place on that campus,” says Kelsey. For the arts community, he suggests, “there is something freeing about that new geography” on the other side of the river, which lacks allegiances with any existing campus arts fiefdom.He emphasizes that the ArtLab is not intended as a performing arts complex. “It’s designed for experimental use, or research; it is not designed for final, immaculate, performances. It's a work-in-progress space.” The projects, he envisions, “will be things done with an emphasis on process, and on the open-endedness of art-making, the risk-taking that art-making entails.”Of the venture’s branding as a “Lab,” consistent with its planned proximity to Harvard’s “innovation” cluster (consisting of the iLab, the Life Lab, and the Launch Lab), Kelsey comments, “I think this is a moment to affirm that the arts have always involved their own forms of radical innovation—to respect that the intellectual content and rigor of what artists do is at the same level as what our other scholars in various fields do.”As for why the building will be temporary, Kelsey says that with plans for the Allston campus still in flux, “the idea was to have a structure that was not a monument, was not going to be built with a sense of permanence, but was going to be up for some amount of time.” Perhaps, he suggests, “this is just a more dynamic understanding of architecture than what we may be accustomed to”—though in his experience, he adds, buildings tend to stay up longer than originally planned. At the Task Force meeting, a Harvard spokesman said that the ArtLab is expected to stand for 10 to 15 years. The building’s frame has been designed to be quickly and easily dismantled, so that it can be relocated wholesale, or have its parts reused in other projects or recycled; the longer-term destiny of[...]

Harvard Corporation’s Agenda

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 23:01:45 +0000

Harvard Corporation’s Bill Lee interviewed John S. Rosenberg Harvard Corporation Bill Lee perspectivesIn a conversation this afternoon, William F. Lee, senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation, reviewed the progress of the governing board’s most pressing current priority—conducting the search for the successor to President Drew Faust, who steps down next June 30—and touching on other University matters, from research in the life sciences to the operation of the Corporation itself. Lee has assumed the responsibility for this sort of occasional communication about the board’s work since he became senior fellow in 2014 (read accounts of similar, prior briefings here and here).The Presidential SearchThe information-gathering stage. Touching on the highlights of an extensive Gazette interview on the search published earlier this week, Lee said the 15 members of the search committee have been “moving ourselves through the first stage of the process,” conducting broad outreach to the extended Harvard community through a broadcast email to 375,000 recipients (which elicited 1,500 responses); one-on-one meetings with 200 individuals; and meetings with a couple hundred more people in group settings. He singled out “very, very good faculty, student, and staff advisory committees,” and expressed gratitude both for the information they have provided, and for their chairs’ further efforts to extend the search committee’s reach. Collectively, through those efforts, “We’ve learned a lot about Harvard’s strengths and challenges,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot about the characteristics and traits” that a Harvard president should have. This process will continue through year-end, Lee indicated.Toward finding candidates. Now, the search is moving into what he characterized as its second phase: focusing on identifying the right candidate for the presidency. As of this morning, he said, 694 individuals had been suggested—some of them multiple times—and the search committee has begun to go through them in a disciplined way (looking, he joked, for a Marvel comics “superhero” who could fulfill every requirement associated with the position).To date, he said, the deliberate search process had accomplished what the committee members had hoped for; now, the harder work begins.The context for the next presidency. In the Gazette interview, Lee said that the outreach and conversations conducted during the search had taught him new things about the University. Asked to amplify, he sketched three themes:First, “how different the context and landscape are from 11 years ago,” during the search that identified Faust. Higher education, he said, “is in a different place.” It has come under attack in some parts of the society, as has the validity of intellectual curiosity. Accordingly, a new president will have to be able “to articulate the case for higher education, articulate the case for research, articulate the case for fact-based intellectual inquiry.” That responsibility has always come with the Harvard presidency, he noted, but now more than ever.Second, “the desire and appetite from people associated with Harvard to make Drew’s ‘One University’ not just a slogan but implemented” is more robust than he imagined. There is strong sentiment, he said, for removing structural, cultural, and financial barriers to interdisciplinary work across the institution.Third, “the student body is very different from what it was 11 years ago.” In fact, h[...]

Poet Frank Bidart Wins the National Book Award

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 14:03:47 +0000

Frank Bidart wins the 2017 National Book Award for poetry Sophia Nguyen harvardians at national book awards 2017Last night, the National Book Award winners were announced at a ceremony in New York City, among them the poet Frank Bidart, A.M. ’67. Per tradition, the long lists were released in September with 10 titles in each genre—poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and young adult literature—then halved a month later. This year, the National Book Foundation recognized six books by Harvard affiliates.Bidart, A.M. ’67, won for Half-Light, which assembles a half-century’s worth of verse from over his career. In his New York Times review, Harvard Review poetry editor Major Jackson, RI ’07, wrote, "Bidart avoids the pitfalls of therapeutic poetry by ennobling thought itself. There’s something heroic in the maverick poet who shirks conventional aesthetics to make a temple of the mind…Let’s pray his poems continue to aim at the most pressing issues. We need new examples of ways to be free, to slip the constraints of art and life."Four of Bidart's previous collections have received nominations in the past: Desire, in 1997; Star Dust in 2005; Watching the Spring Festival, his book of lyrics from 2008; and Metaphysical Dog, in 2013. Also in poetry, Shane McCrae, J.D. ’07, was a finalist for In the Language of My Captor, his third book.In nonfiction, journalist Frances Fitzgerald ’62 was a finalist for The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America, a comprehensive survey of the country’s history with evangelical politics. Her first book, Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam, won the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Bancroft Prize for History in 1972. Fitzgerald’s fourth book, Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars, and the End of the Cold War, was reviewed in this magazine’s May-June 2000 issue. It was also a finalist for the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize.Long-list nominees included The Color of the Law, A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein ’63, and Kevin Young’s Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News. In her review, “Believe It Or Not!,” for the November-December 2017 issue, contributor Niela Orr calls the latter “as exhaustive as its subtitle,” adding, “The revelation of this information is mixed with the disappointment of not having access to such a compendium before now.” In this magazine, Young ’92 was previously featured a 2007 interview (“Rhythms of Race,” September-October 2007) and as a member of the Dark Room Collective (profiled in “Elbow Room,” March-April 2016). His 2015 verse collection, Blue Laws, also made the National Book  Award long list.In fiction, Charmaine Craig ’93 was named to the long list for Miss Burma, her second novel, based on the lives of her mother and grandparents.[...]

The Four Chaplains Are Honored in Memorial Church

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 22:00:51 +0000

The Four Chaplains are honored at Harvard Jean Martin four chaplains plaqueFrom 1942 to 1944, Harvard served as home for the U.S. Army’s Chaplain School, where a five-week program during the height of World War II graduated 20 consecutive classes of “sky pilots”—6,449 in all: priests, ministers, and rabbis representing the three faiths then recognized by the American military. Their training included long marches, defense against chemical warfare, military law, first aid, military sanitation, and graves registration. Men of different denominations were intentionally bunked together, to promote tolerance and understanding.The Reverend George L. Fox, Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, the Reverend Clark V. Poling, and Father John P. Washington were classmates during one of the school’s first-year sessions in Cambridge. They were reunited in January 1943 in New York City, assigned to sail for Europe on the SS Dorchester, a troop ship carrying almost a thousand men. On February 3, not long after midnight, a torpedo struck; the ship’s electrical system was destroyed, frigid water poured in, and the vessel sank within 27 minutes. During that scant half hour, the four chaplains worked in the darkness to organize an orderly evacuation of those trapped below deck, to get men into lifeboats, and to distribute life jackets. When the supply ran out, they gave away their own. Survivors reported seeing the four of them, arms linked, braced against the ship’s railing, singing hymns and reciting prayers as the Dorchester went down. This past Saturday, November 11, three-quarters of a century later, the University and the Harvard Veterans Alumni Organization honored the chaplains’ actions, and the service and sacrifice of all Harvard veterans, during the annual Veterans Day service in Memorial Church—itself dedicated 85 years ago to honor Harvard’s World War I dead. Army colonel Everett Spain, D.B.A. ’14, an HVAO director, took charge of telling the veterans, ROTC candidates, active-duty service members, and civilians assembled in the pews about the lives and death of the four men who “passed life’s ultimate test.”Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff, a retired captain in the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps, delivered the keynote address. “Military service,” for many people, may not evoke ministry, but Resnicoff spoke of how chaplains help strengthen the interfaith values that in turn strengthen the services and those within them. In many ways, he added, chaplains also bridge the gap between the civilian and military worlds—a role of special importance today, in a country where so few citizens have direct ties to those in the armed forces.Because the chaplains’ actions did not occur during “combat with the enemy,” they were ineligible for the Medal of Honor, which many felt they deserved. On July 14, 1960, an Act of Congress approved the Four Chaplains Medal, awarded for extraordinary heroism. Only four were struck; these were presented in 1961 to the chaplains’ next of kin.Photograph by Lydia Carmichael/Harvard MagazineAs one of three chaplains on duty when 241 men died in the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, the rabbi was himself later honored, with his Catholic and Protestant colleagues, by the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation. His presence lent further solemnity to the dedication of a plaque, newly affixed to the north wall of the sanctuary, memorializing his four predecessors. The tablet[...]

Priscilla Chan Grants $12 Million for Public Service

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 16:30:02 +0000

Chan Zuckerberg grant for Harvard public service John S. Rosenberg Chan Zuckerberg harvard grantWhen last seen on campus, during her tenth reunion, pediatrician Priscilla Chan ’07, poncho-clad, was applauding her husband, Mark Zuckerberg ’06, LL.D.’17, Facebook’s co-founder and CEO, as he finally got his Harvard degree and delivered the address at the Commencement afternoon exercises last May. Today, the University announced that their eponymous Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) has made a $12.1-million, 15-year grant in support of Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA), with which she was associated as an undergraduate involved in an after-school program in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, serving the Franklin Hill and Franklin Field public-housing projects. (She visited members of the Franklin Hill community yesterday, as shown in the photograph above.) [Corrected November 13, 2017, 2:15 p.m. The CZI grant was directed to the Phillips Brooks House Center for Public Service & Engaged Scholarship, the College’s office for supporting public-service activities, including the student-run PBHA. The Mindich gift, described below, also went to the center.]The grant, according to the University announcement, will be used in part to enable lower-income students to pursue summer public-service activities by fully covering the summer-earnings contribution required in financial-aid packages. Chan received support from PBHA’s Stride program when she was at the College.In the announcement, Chan said:The opportunity to work with the kids of Franklin Hill inspired me to pursue a career dedicated to serving children and families as a pediatrician and educator. As a student on financial aid, it was Harvard’s Stride program that made it financially feasible for me to choose service over traditional work-study. It’s my hope this gift will give many more students the ability to choose service that will inspire their passion and build their skills as the next generation of public service leaders.President Drew Faust said:This generous gift will provide opportunities for even more of Harvard’s remarkable and committed undergraduates to follow Priscilla’s example of community service while at the College. We are grateful to Priscilla, Mark, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative for their help and partnership in creating pathways to pursue a lifetime of public service for our students regardless of their backgrounds or personal resources.The grant will also help fund the Stride program for year-round public-service support, and three postgraduate fellowships.Beyond this welcome personal philanthropy, the larger question for Harvard is whether the couple’s initiative, to which the bulk of their multibillion-dollar fortune is dedicated, will in the future provide significant research funding for Boston-area biomedical research, along the lines of the San Francisco Bay-area “Biohub” (involving Berkeley, Stanford, and the University of California, San Francisco, and backed to the initial tune of $600 million), or, as part of its education initiative, support research at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Princeton president emerita Shirley Tilghman, LL.D. ’04, who has led an assessment of Harvard’s life-sciences and biomedical capabilities and opportunities and is now a member of the Harvard Corporation, is a scientific adviser to CZI.The Harvard Campaign has been rewarding fo[...]

Football 2017: Harvard 6, Penn 23

Sun, 12 Nov 2017 00:58:54 +0000

Crimson Football 2017: Harvard 6, Penn 23 Dick Friedman football 2017 harvard pennOn Saturday at Harvard Stadium, it was a blustery 29 degrees at kickoff. The frigidity of the weather would be matched by that of the Harvard offense. Held to two field goals by an intelligent, hard-hitting Penn defense, the Crimson succumbed 23-6. The result gave both teams records of 5-4 overall and 3-3 in Ivy League play. When Yale, which has one Ivy loss, beat Princeton (see “Weekend Roundup,” below), Harvard and Penn were eliminated from the title race.The defeat made this the first year since 2000 that Harvard will have fewer than seven victories. Saturday also marked the first time the Crimson did not score a touchdown since September 19, 1998, when it was shut out at Columbia 24-0. Moreover, Harvard had not been held to single digits in a game since November 14, 2009, when it lost 17-7 to Penn.Harvard FootballSign up for Harvard Magazine’s football e-mail and follow the Crimson all season long! Dick Friedman will provide the latest news, game summaries, and insights.Crimson coach Tim Murphy lauded the Quakers, who bottled up Harvard’s running game, limiting the Crimson to 161 exceedingly hard-earned yards, and blanketed the Harvard receivers. Penn provided “a very narrow window [in which] to throw the ball,” said Murphy; time after time this canny strategy resulted in Harvard’s quarterback (senior Joe Viviano for three quarters, freshman Jake Smith in the last) either tossing the ball away or scrambling for a few yards. “We never really had any great momentum offensively,” Murphy said. For all that, the Crimson had its chances. “But we did not capitalize on our opportunities,” the Harvard coach summed up.The Quakers did—right from the get-go. On the game’s first play from scrimmage, running back Tre Solomon swept right, cut upfield and, sprinting past his team’s sideline, ran 77 yards for a touchdown. Jack Soslow added the extra point. With 17 seconds gone, it was Penn 7, Harvard 0. That was the bad news. The good? There were 59 minutes and 43 seconds in which to respond.Early in the second period the Crimson did just that. Junior defensive back Cole Thompson picked off a pass from Quakers quarterback Will Fischer-Colbrie at the Harvard 46. (It was Thompson’s second interception in as many weeks.) Viviano completed two passes to senior tight end Jack Stansell; then freshman Aaron Shampklin slashed 15 yards to the Penn 19. The Crimson got another first down when Viviano gained nine and junior halfback Charlie Booker III got the needed yard. But from there the Crimson could not push the ball over the goal. On fourth down sophomore Jake McIntyre came in and booted a 24-yard field goal. Penn 7, Harvard 3.Fischer-Colbrie coolly responded. He led the Quakers from their 16 on a 12-play, six-and-a-half-minute march—kind of a statement drive—that mixed power running and two clutch passes to tight end Nicholas Bokun. At the Crimson five, the defense stiffened. Soslow matched McIntyre’s field goal with a 22-yarder of his own. Penn 10, Harvard 3. After the Crimson went three-and-out, Penn almost got more points, reaching the Harvard 21 before senior defensive back Tanner Lee picked off a pass to end the half. At that point, the Crimson was fortunate to be in it. Harvard had been outgained 255 yards to 82. (Of course, 77 yards of Penn’s total came on o[...]

The Fractured Faculty

Thu, 09 Nov 2017 17:31:34 +0000

Harvard final clubs debate divided faculty John S. Rosenberg Harvard final clubs and faculty governance challengesFollowing the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) meeting on November 7—and a vote that rejected a motion opposing the College’s regulation of final clubs, fraternities, and sororities—the Harvard Crimson headlined “Sanctions Vote a Sigh of Relief for Administrators” and “In Victory for Administrators, Anti-Sanctions Faculty Motion Fails.”In a very real sense, those headlines ring true. A faculty endorsement of the motion would in effect have thrown out the effort, begun in May 2016 and led by Harvard College dean Rakesh Khurana, to impose sanctions on students who join unrecognized single gender social organizations (USGSOs)—as a means of pressuring those organizations to change their membership practices and cultures, or to prohibit membership outright—as a way of attempting to close them down.In other ways, however, many of the hardest substantive and procedural issues surrounding the USGSOs remain unresolved.And the sharp faculty debate over the sanctions or prohibition reveals other serious issues, pertaining to FAS governance and the culture of contemporary Harvard, that have barely been addressed. Figuring out how to make these challenges a priority, and pursuing the hard work of coming to terms with them, may be as consequential for the faculty’s future as the reform of the Harvard Corporation, unveiled in late 2010, was intended to be for the University as a whole.The Final Clubs and Related OrganizationsWhat, now, is to be done about the final clubs—the particular object of Khurana’s attention?The final report by the committee on USGSOs that he co-chaired recommended not one course of action, but three:sanctioning students who join, by denying them the possibility of holding a leadership position in a recognized student organization or club or sports team, and withholding the College’s required endorsement for fellowships such as the Rhodes and Marshall;prohibiting membership in such organizations outright; orsome other strategy, perhaps focused on moral suasion meant to cast the gender-exclusive clubs and organizations in broad disfavor.The committee report suggested that this decision rests in President Drew Faust’s hands. Faculty opponents of the sanctions or of prohibition, who emphasized students’ right of legal free association, also strongly insist that the decision belongs to the faculty.So the what and the who remain somewhat up in the air.Also unresolved is how to enforce any regulatory or sanctions measure. In their November 7 presentations, Khurana and dean of freshmen Thomas Dingman both suggested that attempting to make USGSOs into recognized organizations (which would have to be nondiscriminatory and open in their membership processes, and locally governed) would be costly in terms of personnel and resources.But subjecting student members, or would-be members, of unreformed USGSOs to sanction or removal from the College would seem subject to some of the same challenges. Membership is not a public matter, so students will presumably have to affirm that they are not members, and then be subject to some investigatory process to determine whether they are telling the truth. It is perhaps worth noting that since the academic misconduct that shook the College in the 2012-2013 acad[...]

A New Cast for the Semitic Museum

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 18:05:58 +0000

A New Cast for the Harvard Semitic Museum Sophia Nguyen harvard semitic museum new dream stela“Fun with goo!” chirped Peter Der Manuelian, director of the Harvard Semitic Museum, observing the activity in its third-floor gallery. Kneeling on the floor, three student volunteers in protective coats and blue latex gloves smeared a grainy, salmon-colored paste over a rubbery template shaped like a tombstone. Theirs was the first shift of a museum project undertaken over three days in late October: casting a replica of the Dream Stele, an ancient Egyptian artifact dating back to about 1400 B.C.E. They moved quickly to distribute the resin with just the right unevenness over the blue silicone mold. The project is part of Manuelian’s efforts to revitalize the Semitic Museum to appeal to a twenty-first-century audience. The building dates back to 1903, a time when museums bought plaster casts of ancient objects to teach students and visitors about Near Eastern archaeology and culture. Over time, better-resourced institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Louvre got rid of their replicas and acquired original reliefs and sculptures. Harvard bought up many of those copies, including one lot containing 150 Mesopotamian palace reliefs. Today, though, the casts are too heavy, and flake too easily, to go on display. They live in the fourth-floor attic and in off-site storage, swaddled in protective foam.Assistant curator Adam Aja came up a way to make copies of these copies: cleaning up the old casts, painting them with silicone, and then pouring a resin into the resulting molds. The replicas “capture all of the details,” enthuses Manuelian. “Everything is there, plus they're lightweight—and once you have a mold, you can make a ton of ’em.” And, he adds, “It's a pretty cool way of bringing back to life the kind of thing that ISIS is smashing and destroying. They break ’em, we make ’em.” In 2015, using Aja’s method and the efforts of students in the General Education course “Ancient Lives,” the museum made resin copies of some of those Mesopotamian reliefs. These will be hung around the perimeter of the third floor, itself in the midst of refurbishment. Recently, it’s gotten a new floor of polished concrete (protected by cardboard during the fun with goo); samples of possible paint colors—both gray—leaned against the walls. “One day,” says the museum director, “this will be a combination of Mesopotamian gallery and an event space. We’ll do weddings—we’ll do whatever!” Manuelian is also King professor of Egyptology and founding director of the Giza Archives, and when he learned that the University of Leuven, in Belgium, was planning to restore its plaster cast of the Dream Stele, he proposed that they try Aja’s new technique. Last August, Aja went to Belgium and, after helping the Egyptologists there fix the damage to the plaster, made a mold and shipped it back to Cambridge. Then the assistant curator got to tinkering with different color shades to get just the right hue for the replica.Supervising the students’ work, Aja instructed, “Don’t forget to paint it right up the sides. It’s going to drip and drain a bit.” He whipped up another batch of resin, adding pink powder a bit at a time, saying, “It can go bad [...]

Final Clubs: Toward a Vote

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 01:52:54 +0000

Harvard final clubs vote John S. Rosenberg Harvard final clubs voteThis afternoon, at its second meeting of the semester, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) continued the protracted debate over unrecognized single-gender social organizations (USGSOs)—namely, proposals by Harvard College to regulate final clubs (and by extension, fraternities and sororities) by imposing sanctions on student members, or by prohibiting membership outright (read the background here—including a summary of past plans to regulate student behavior and of the legislative proposals summarized below).In this latest iteration, the faculty voted down a motion that would have proscribed sanctions or a blanket prohibition on student membership in such organizations (see the description of the motion below). The vote was 130 against, 90 in favor (by FAS standards, a robust turnout among the more than 700 eligible voting members of the faculty Corrected November 8, 2017, at 10:25 a.m.: There are 882 voting members of the faculty)—by secret, paper ballot, a measure FAS resorts to only rarely.From here, the major substantive and procedural issues remain:what kinds of measures will actually be adopted to change or curtail the USGSOs; andby whom—the president, the dean of FAS, or a vote of the faculty itself.The State of PlayHeading into this afternoon’s discussion, this is how matters stood:•Sanctions. Current freshmen are, on paper, sanctioned if they join a USGSO: they may not serve in leadership positions in recognized student clubs or groups, nor receive the required Harvard College endorsements for fellowships like the Rhodes or Marshall Scholarship. In practice, enforcement of this new regulation is currently suspended, pending FAS legislative debates and a final decision on the new policy that would, prospectively, prohibit students entering the College in the future, outright, from belonging to such an organization.•Lewis motion. Gordon McKay professor of computer science Harry Lewis had a motion on the floor to the effect that, as the agenda summarizes it, the College “shall not discipline, penalize, or otherwise sanction students for joining, or affiliating with, any lawful organization, political party, or social, political, or other affinity group.” It aims at upholding the right of association, and also asserting that the authority for establishing the conditions of student life belong to the faculty—two themes he and supporters of this and a prior motion have emphasized since the final club discussions began in the spring of 2016. Having been introduced at the October 3 faculty meeting, this motion was eligible to be voted upon today.•Allen motion. Conant University Professor Danielle Allen proposed a separate regulatory regime: all student organizations would be brought under Massachusetts law; membership in those that fail to comply would result in expulsion of the student. Although the Faculty Council originally voted 17-0 in favor of the proposal, on subsequent discussion, some uncertainties apparently arose; FAS dean Michael D. Smith indicated to The Harvard Crimson that he was not sure legally how to proceed under the proposal; and Allen announced on October 25 that she had withdrawn her motion, noting that “During the course of Faculty Council deliberations on October 25,[...]


Tue, 07 Nov 2017 14:09:42 +0000

Harvard basketball teams preview David L. Tannenwald Harvard basketball previewLast March, Lavietes Pavilion, the home of Harvard basketball, took on an unusual feel. Coaches in sports jackets gave way to construction workers in neon vests, whose boots marked the hardwood where sneakers usually squeaked. The tabletop machine used to operate the electronic scoreboard sat idly on the floor. The baskets were wheeled away amid the work—begun the previous summer and mostly paused during the 2016-2017 season—to gut the 91-year-old building.During the next six months, the basketball teams held court where they could: the Business School’s gym, Malkin Athletic Center, even the undersized court at the Law School’s Hemenway Gymnasium. Meanwhile, the coaches moved their offices to trailers, where they squeezed into cramped quarters.By October, just a few days before Crimson Madness, the kickoff event for the men’s team’s season, the teams returned to Lavietes, now replete with a video board, revamped and expanded locker rooms, new coaches’ offices, and a new floor. The teams felt energized. Said sophomore Jeannie Boehm, “There’s definitely a sense of, we have all this stuff, and we need to live up to it and play up to it.”  The opportunity to do so begins Friday. The men start their season by hosting MIT, and the women tip off against Dayton at a tournament in Maine. The question is whether the team-rebuilding projects will prove as successful as the arena renovation. The men last won an Ivy title in 2015; the women have not won one since 2008.The Post-Chambers EraJust before he and his team vacated the arena last spring, Stemberg men’s basketball coach Tommy Amaker reflected on the season. He was upbeat, even though the Crimson—which had gone 18-10 overall and 10-4 in Ivy play—had its season cut short by a 73-71 loss to Yale in the Ivy League tournament semifinals. “We feel like we’re in a place,” he said, “where there’s an amazing amount of forward thinking and optimism and belief that good days are still ahead of us and in some ways, maybe even our best days.”Among the reasons to be bullish: the team would return seven sophomores, who had formed the nation’s tenth-rated recruiting class in 2016. Four of those players became regular starters for the Crimson as freshmen, and two—Bryce Aiken and Seth Towns—led the team in scoring, averaging 14.5 and 12.3 points per game, respectively.Amaker’s optimism also stemmed from how the Crimson had fallen short. Harvard suffered all of its Ivy losses by four or fewer points. He anticipated that this could teach his young players the “fine line” that separates good teams from champions. He also hoped that the postseason loss to Yale would be motivating, much like the Crimson’s buzzer-beater loss to Princeton in the 2011 Ivy League playoff helped to propel Harvard to a title the following season. Looking at any team’s growth over the years, “You can find those moments when their hearts were broken,” Amaker said.But this year’s team will have to adjust to the graduation of point guard Siyani Chambers ’16 (’17), a four-time All-Ivy selection and two-time captain who led the Crimson to three NCAA tournament appearances and to the only two March Madness wins in program hi[...]

Endowments: The Specter of Taxation

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 12:05:58 +0000

Taxing university endowments John S. Rosenberg Taxing university endowmentsAfter a year in which President Drew Faust and fellow university leaders successfully persuaded members of Congress to sustain federal funding for scientific research—in opposition to the Trump administration’s budget outline—they now find the tax proposal advanced last week by the Republican leaders of the House of Representatives aiming for the first time at private institutions’ endowments. Though the sums involved may not be large initially, the proposal, if enacted, would set the precedent for taxing endowments more heavily.Combined with other measures in the draft legislation, the tax proposals seem likely to have the effect of paying for overall reductions in the corporate rate and certain individual taxes in part by raising the cost of pursuing higher education and conducting academic research generally. The most useful summary, compiled by Inside Higher Ed, notes that the tax proposals would:end deductions for interest on student loans—of immediate consequence for the overwhelming majority of students who do not attend institutions that can afford need-blind admissions and extend aid for students’ full financial need;restructure the American Opportunity Tax Credit, eliminating benefits for students who take more than five years to graduate, and for part-time and graduate students, and repeal the Lifetime Learning Credit, used by graduate students and workers pursuing education to retrain themselves;eliminate a provision of the tax code that many institutions use to waive the cost of tuition for graduate students who fill teaching positions; andend a provision that allows employees of nonprofits to exclude from taxable income undergraduate tuition reductions they or dependents receive from their own or reciprocal institutions—a popular benefit for faculty and staff members at many schools. (Similarly, a benefit that many employers confer, to cover educational costs for their workers, would also be eliminated.)It may also be the case that changes in corporate taxation would eliminate the tax-exempt status of several kinds of special-purpose bonds, raising the costs to borrow funds to build certain new university facilities.More generally, of course, the move to encourage standard, rather than itemized, deductions on individuals’ tax returns might make the benefits of charitable giving less visible, or attractive, to prospective donors. In fiscal year 2017, Harvard recorded $450 million in current-use gifts (9 percent of operating revenue), and $550 million in endowment gifts—largess from the current capital campaign, and obviously important sources of cash for immediate expenses and future commitments.But these pale in comparison to income distributed from the endowment to support the academic enterprise: $1.8 billion, or 36 percent of Harvard’s revenue for the fiscal year. It is no surprise that Republican authors of the tax bill would seek any possible sources to offset the multi-trillion-dollar losses of federal revenue accompanying their proposed tax cuts (they seek to contain the net 10-year cost to $1.5 trillion). Nor should it be a surprise that they would focus on university endowments: Senator Charles Grassley (Iowa) has lo[...]