Seven Distinguished FAS Faculty Members Retire
By Susan Peterson
Retiring from a profession does not necessarily mean retiring from a career.
"I've already had to say 'no' to many things!" said David Landes, Coolidge Professor of History and Professor of Economics Emeritus.
Edward O. Wilson, Pellegrino University Professor Emeritus, looks at this new time as an opportunity "to shift my focus to the three other careers I've always maintained" -- research, writing, and exploring long-held interests.
And so, with the Class of '97, seven members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences graduated this year to the next phases of their lives.
They are: Louis Bakanowsky (visual and environmental studies), Stanley Cavell (philosophy), Herman Chernoff (statistics), John F. Kain (economics and Afro-American studies), David Landes (history and economics), David Layzer (astrophysics), and E.O. Wilson (biology and the natural sciences).
Louis J. Bakanowsky, Osgood Hooker Professor of Visual Arts, has been busy creating places where people live, work, and play. Throughout his career as an architect, he has designed and planned buildings and living spaces worldwide.
Bakanowsky holds credit for such landmarks as Robinson Hall and the Observatory at Harvard; the Henry B. DuPont Library at the Pomfret School in Connecticut; the U.S. Pavilion at Expo '67 in Montreal, Canada; waterfront projects in Frankfurt, Genoa, and Osaka; and projects for the London Zoo. He continues to work designing housing for mentally ill people, on a pro bono basis for the Alliance for the Mentally Ill.
Bakanowsky received his bachelor of fine arts degree from Syracuse University in 1957 and his M.A. from Harvard's Graduate School of Design (GSD) in 1961. He joined the faculty in 1962 and became a professor of architecture at the GSD in 1972. He served as chairman of the Harvard Council on the Arts, 1976-87; director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, 1984-90; and chairman of the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, 1975-85.
From 1991-92, and in 1983, Bakanowsky was the visiting artist and scholar at the American Academy in Rome, and he was elected to the College of Fellows, American Institute of Architects, in 1985.
Stanley Cavell, the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value, thinks of his retirement as an extended sabbatical.
"To give up the assurance of the classroom is, for me, to enter unknown territory," he explained. "While most of my life should continue uninterupted, I hope the traumatic regrouping of energies will allow my writing to explore paths I have barely glimpsed."
A MacArthur Fellowship winner in 1992, Cavell has spent his career as a philosopher exploring interests as diverse as film, Shakespeare and Emerson, Wittgenstein and Heidegger.
Cavell earned his A.B. in music at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1947, and a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1961. He joined the faculty as associate professor in 1963 and has been the Walter M. Cabot Professor at Harvard since 1965.
He was president of the American Philosophical Association (Eastern Division) this year, and he has been an affiliate scholar at the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute and a trustee at the English Institute.
Cavell also won the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award in Criticism, from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1985. He has received five honorary degrees, including one from Hebrew University this year.
Statistics Professor Herman Chernoff is known for his work in sequential design, a method that helps scientists know when enough data have been gathered during research to support a reasonable conclusion. But he is also famous for designing faces -- using cartoons to represent statistical measurements.
Chernoff, who has been teaching at Harvard since 1984, earned his bachelor of science degree from City College of New York in 1943, and both his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in applied mathematics from Brown University in 1945 and 1948, respectively.
He has won the Samuel S. Wilks Memorial Medal, the American Statistical Association's highest honor, and in 1991 was named "Statistician of the Year" by the Boston Chapter of the American Statistical Association. Last year, Chernoff was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Rome for his "incomparable accomplishments in scholarship."
He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and many statistics and mathematics organizations. His publications include more than 100 papers, as well as a book now considered a classic: Elementary Decision Theory.
Chernoff still keeps an office in the Science Center and doesn't plan to make any major changes in his schedule, explaining, "I hope to continue what I've been doing in the past."
John F. Kain
John F. Kain, the Henry Lee Professor of Economics and professor of Afro-American studies, and professor of regional planning, has a new post in Texas.
When the University of Texas at Dallas offered Kain a chair for the Study of Science and Society, and his wife, Mary Fan Kain (formerly assistant director of the Office of Career Services) a position with the M.B.A. program, they accepted.
Kain received an A.B. from Bowling Green State University in 1957, and both an M.A. and Ph.D. in 1961 from the University of California, Berkeley. He was director of the Program in Regional and Urban Economics at Harvard from 1967-78; chair of City and Regional Planning from 1975-81; chair of the Economics Department from 1988-91; and Taussig Research Professor, Department of Economics, from 1987-88.
He has traveled worldwide lecturing and consulting on urban planning, housing, and other issues, and he has authored numerous articles and co-authored several books.
Kain has been working on a large-scale study of Texas elementary school children for the past three years, compiling information for a database that was started in 1989-90. The data can be used to study student achievement, the effect of increased access to suburban schools on minority student achievement, and the nature and implications of special education programs.
David Landes, Coolidge Professor of History and professor of economics, has been bridging disciplines throughout his career as an economist and a specialist in the modern history of Western Europe and the Middle East.
Landes received an A.B. from the City College of New York in 1942 and an A.M. and Ph.D. from Harvard in 1943 and 1953, respectively. He returned to Harvard in 1964 as a professor of history and has held various appointments in the fields of history, political science, and economics. From 1981 to 1993, he chaired the Faculty Committee on Degrees in Social Studies, and since 1987 he has been a senior fellow of the Society of Fellows.
His career also found him chairing a panel on Western European Affairs for the Commission of Critical Choices in 1975, which was started by former New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller. He has received five honorary degrees.
Landes has just finished writing a book, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, which will be released by Norton Publishing in March 1998. He says he "owes about six shorter pieces" to other publishers, and is working on a historical novel. He has also written about clocks and time -- an interest he has pursued for more than 20 years.
In his final semester as a Harvard undergraduate in 1947, David Layzer was invited to give a series of lectures on quantum theory to Professor Donald H. Menzel's graduate seminar. It was an opportunity that foreshadowed Layzer's career. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1950 and is retiring as the Donald H. Menzel Professor of Astrophysics Emeritus.
Layzer has authored many research articles and book chapters in astrophysics and cosmology, atmospheric physics, theoretical physics, theoretical biology (evolution and genetics), and sociobiology. But he also enjoyed teaching students and developing courses for nonscientists and beginning scientists.
"I'm glad I've devoted as much time as I have to teaching," Layzer explained. "It's very rewarding, and I was able to do innovative things I've wanted to do. It has also allowed me to give something back for the opportunity to work at a place like Harvard."
He is the author of two books, Constructing the Universe (Freeman, 1984) and Cosmogenesis (Oxford University Press, 1989), and was an associate editor of Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics for 30 years.
For now, when he's not pursuing research projects in cosmology, quantum mechanics, and biological evolution, or writing books from his course notes, Layzer may be found bicycling, playing tennis, or performing chamber music on his violin and viola.
Edward O. Wilson
Outside Edward O. Wilson's office is a bulletin board covered in glossy book jackets with large pictures of ferocious looking ants. It is an appropriate welcome to the lab and world of Wilson, Pellegrino University Professor, and biologist, entomologist, sociobiologist, naturalist, and conservationist -- to name a few of the many hats Wilson wears on a given day.
He also oversees the largest university-owned ant collection in the world at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. That makes Wilson an antkeeper, too, a childhood interest that became his career.
Wilson received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Alabama in 1949 and 1950, respectively. Since coming to Harvard for a Ph.D. in biology (1955), he has received numerous awards and honorary degrees, including Pulitzer Prizes for On Human Nature (1979) and The Ants (1991), which he co-authored with former Harvard zoologist, Bert Holldobler. He also won the National Medal of Science and the Crafoord Prize -- the highest scientific award for the field of ecology.
"Forty-one years as a Harvard professor is a long time to devote to one thing, and it's been enormously rewarding," Wilson said. "So the research, writing, and public service I want to pursue will now get that portion of time that I put into teaching and administration."
Wilson has almost finished two more books, one of which is a complete study of the largest genus of ants in the Western Hemisphere. Another is about the Enlightenment and the relationship between the humanities and the sciences. He acknowledges that this latter book project may seem ambitious, but, "I'm at that age when people decide to row across the Atlantic or learn Sanskrit," he explained. "I'm ready to do something extreme -- I hope that another exciting career at Harvard is just beginning."
Copyright 1998 President and Fellows of Harvard College