Dominick Reuter/Harvard News Office

Campus & Community

The year in review

long read

A Harvard timeline

As Commencement crowns another year of Harvard history, here is a brief backward glance at some of the year’s highlights.

Summer 2006

President Emeritus Derek Bok returns to Massachusetts Hall to serve as interim president.

The University Planning Committee for Science and Engineering (UPCSE) — a group of 24 scientists from across the University — issues preliminary proposals for “enhancing science and engineering at Harvard” that range from continuing to invest in traditional “core disciplines” to transforming the teaching of science by implementing “hands-on learning as a cornerstone in undergraduate science and engineering education.”

Harvard becomes the only university test site for the MINE-X Ultra nonblocking filter, a soup-can-size Canadian-made device that captures at least 80 percent of common toxins and about 60 percent of fine soot emitted by diesel engines.

September 2006

The College Admissions Office announces the elimination of Harvard’s Early Action program. Starting in fall 2007 (for the freshman class entering in September 2008), the College will have a single application deadline of Jan. 1. The change was made with the hope of turning down the heat on a college admissions that has become too pressured, too complex, and too vulnerable to public cynicism.

The architectural firm of Behnisch Architekten presents preliminary ideas for the Allston Science Complex to Harvard and the Allston community.

Figures released by the University Development Office show that during fiscal year 2006, more than 89,000 donors gave Harvard nearly $595 million, the second-highest total after the record-setting $658 million of fiscal year 2001. As of June 30, 2006, the University endowment stands at $29.2 billion, up from $25.9 billion a year earlier.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) creates the Task Force on Teaching and Career Development to consider ways of improving incentives and rewards for excellence in teaching. The group is chaired by Theda Skocpol, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, and dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

The Center for the Environment receives $1.5 million from John and Elaine French to establish the postdoctoral John and Elaine French Environmental Fellowship, the first endowed position in the center’s Environmental Fellows Program.

After a four-month effort, Harvard Stadium has a new playing field: 125,000 square feet of FieldTurf, a durable synthetic surface designed to mimic the look and feel of natural grass. Installation of the new turf marks the first phase of a donor-funded, $5 million upgrade to the 1903 landmark. Later in the fall, new lighting arrives to grace the colonnade, while an inflatable bubble dome is installed to allow the stadium to be used for winter events and sports practice.

The Jerome Lyle Rappaport Charitable Foundation and the Rappaport family announce the permanent endowment of Harvard’s Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston through a gift of $12.35 million. Established in 2000, the institute seeks to enhance collaboration between the academic and political worlds.

In the Maxwell Dworkin building, NASA astronaut Stephanie Wilson ’88 describes her recent experiences aboard the space shuttle “Discovery.”

In honor of Rembrandt’s 400th birthday, the Busch-Reisinger Museum mounts “Rembrandt and the Aesthetics of Technique,” an exhibition of almost 50 of the Dutch master’s prints and drawings.

University Library Director/Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor Sidney Verba announces plans to retire on June 30, 2007. Appointed in 1984, Verba holds the record for longevity as head of the world’s largest academic library system.

At the Kennedy School, Serbian President Boris Tadic and Croatian President Stjepan Mesic jointly call for regional stability, membership in the European Union, and economic development. Their appearance marks the first time in Kennedy School history that two heads of state have shared the same stage.

In Canaday Hall, the Harvard College Women’s Center opens under the directorship of Susan Marine.

The Starr Foundation gives $100 million to support five major biomedical institutions in Boston and New York in the effort to apply genomic technology to the understanding and treatment of cancer. Members of the Starr Cancer Consortium are the Harvard-MIT Broad Institute, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller University, and Cornell’s Weill Medical College.

October 2006

The Harvard Forest (Petersham, Mass.) receives a six-year, $4.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study landscape change in New England.

History and Literature, Harvard’s first field of concentration, celebrates its centennial.

The late pianist-composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein ’39 is the focus of the three-day Harvard celebration “Leonard Bernstein: Boston to Broadway.”

CrimsonGridBGL, one of the world’s 50 fastest supercomputers, goes into operation at the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The device can make up to 11 trillion floating-point calculations per second (teraflops).

The Lamont Library Café opens with a seating capacity of about 100.

Harvard College rededicates the former Hilles Library as the Student Organization Center at Hilles. The Boston firm of Kennedy & Violich Architecture redesigned the 40,000-square-foot structure (originally designed by New York’s Harrison & Abramovitz), which opened in fall 1966.

The Sackler Museum acquires three Japanese Buddhist sculptures and more than 300 early Chinese ceramics (previously on loan and the most comprehensive such collection in the West) through Walter C. Sedgwick and the Walter C. Sedgwick Foundation.

The Harvard China Fund is established under the direction of William C. Kirby, the Edith and Benjamin Geisinger Professor of History. The new venture will operate as an internal fund supporting research and teaching in and about China.

The George Family Foundation (Minneapolis, Minn.) gives $1.25 million to support 15 fellowships for student pursuing concurrent degrees at the Business School and the Kennedy School of Government. The gift also expands the Kennedy School’s leadership-development programs.

November 2006

Roy P. Mottahedeh, the Gurney Professor of History, becomes the first director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, created in 2005 by a $20 million gift from Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud.

The Leon Levy Foundation establishes the Philip J. King Professorship to support a scholar of the ancient world. The FAS chair is named for the director of Harvard’s Shelby White-Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications.

Seven students win Rhodes Scholarships: Joshua Billings, Casey Cep, Brad Smith, Parvinder S. Thiara, Ryan R. Thoreson, Elise Wang, and Daniel Wilner. Two recent graduates — Itumelang Makgetla ’05 and Yusuf Randera-Rees ’05 — also win Rhodes Scholarships.

The Harvard-MIT Broad Institute receives almost $200 million from the National Human Genome Research Institute to support applications and enhancements of large-scale DNA sequencing for biomedicine.

Scot Miller ’07 captures one of a dozen George J. Mitchell Scholarships for 2007-08. Miller will use the award to study at Dublin’s Trinity College.

The Game. We lose, 34-13.

December 2006

Emily Vasiliauskas ’07 and Daniel J. Hemel ’07 win Marshall Scholarships for two years of study in England — Vasiliauskas at Cambridge University, Hemel at Oxford.

Economics Professor Lawrence Katz, chair of the Harvard Committee on Employment and Contracting Policies (est. 2001), declares that “the University has made great progress towards the HCECP recommendations [presented to then-President Lawrence Summers in December 2001] by fostering a constructive, respectful relationship between Harvard and the labor unions representing thousands of employees.” Implementation of one HCECP recommendation, for example, created a Wage and Benefits Parity Policy requiring outside contractors to offer their workers total compensation that matches what Harvard pays its own unionized workers in the same or similar jobs. Harvard thus became the nation’s first institution of higher education to establish such a policy, which has since been adopted by other universities and labor unions.

The Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations celebrates its silver anniversary with a gala formal dinner at Eliot House.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences recommends that the Harvard Corporation change the name of the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences to “School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.” The new entity would remain part of FAS, and the deanship would continue to be held by Venkatesh Narayanamurti, the John A. and Elizabeth S. Armstrong Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Harvard and the University Art Museums choose 224 Western Ave. in Allston as the potential site for a new permanent addition that will serve the Art Museums’ operations and staff, and will include public galleries primarily devoted to modern and contemporary art. At first, the new facility will house Art Museums’ operations during a major renovation of the Fogg Museum. The Los Angeles firm of Daly Genik Architects will design the new facility.

January 2007

Harvard files an Institutional Master Plan with the city of Boston outlining physical plans for the University’s campus of the future in Boston’s Allston neighborhood.

The FAS Task Force on Teaching and Career Development (see September) issues “A Compact to Enhance Teaching and Learning at Harvard,” a report delineating five major goals and 18 recommendations for improving the support and rewards for excellent teaching and enhancing student learning in the College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

The Harvard Corporation establishes the Harvard University Science and Engineering Committee to guide the University in collaborative, cross-disciplinary science initiatives. The Corporation also creates s $50 million HUSEC startup fund and authorizes planning to begin for creating an interfaculty Department of Developmental and Regenerative Biology.

February 2007

Drew G. Faust, dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, is elected and confirmed as Harvard’s 28th president, starting on July 1. She will be the first woman to serve as Harvard’s chief executive.

Actress Scarlett Johansson and actor Ben Stiller claim their Pudding Pots as Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ Woman and Man of the Year.

The Houghton Library marks the birth bicentennial of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with the exhibition “Public Poet, Private Man: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow at 200,” curated by Indiana University English Professor Christoph Irmscher.

Lene Hau, the Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and of Applied Physics, and colleagues announce a major scientific achievement: the successful conversion of energy (as light) into matter and back into energy. The breakthrough offers a new way to control light with matter and vice versa, and has transformative implications for future computers and communications systems.

Enel, the Italian energy corporation, gives $5 million to the Environmental Economics Program (Kennedy School of Government) to create The Enel Endowment for Environmental Economics.

In its final report, the FAS Task Force on General Education recommends a new undergraduate program to replace the Core Curriculum introduced in the late 1970s. The report proposes an emphasis on subjects instead of academic disciplines. Students would be required to take a course in each of the following eight areas: Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding, Culture and Belief, Empirical Reasoning, Ethical Reasoning, Science and Living Systems, Science of the Physical Universe, Societies of the World, and the United States in the World.

Harvard marks its 20th year of participation in Daffodil Days, the annual spring fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences approves and immediately offers 28 secondary fields of concentration to undergraduates. (Harvard’s secondary field is elsewhere known a “minor” field to one’s “major” field of study.) Members of the Class of 2007 are the first in Harvard history to be eligible to have a secondary field listed on their College transcripts.

In Adams House, the Minority Portraiture Project (est. 2002 by The Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations) unveils an oil painting by Stephen Coit ’71, M.B.A. ’77, depicting the late Music/Afro-American Studies Professor Eileen Jackson Southern, who became Harvard’s first black female tenured professor in 1976.

Harvard College announces the establishment of a new preconcentration advising program that will match incoming sophomores with advisers in their new undergraduate Houses who will help them choose their fields of concentration. By vote of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in April 2006, the declaration of concentration has now moved from the end of the second term of enrollment to the end of the third (i.e., sophomore fall term).

March 2007

The Malkin Athletic Center (formerly, the Indoor Athletic Building) closes for major renovations due to be completed in October.

The Stanley Medical Research Institute gives a 10-year, $100 million grant to the Harvard-MIT Broad Institute to create the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, an interdisciplinary effort dedicated to harnessing the power of genomics and chemical biology to advance the understanding and treatment of severe mental illness.

The Graduate School of Education holds the latest installment of the Alumni of Color Conference, a student-organized event that has drawn more than 1,000 participants since its founding in 2003.

Through a $1.25 million gift from Paul M. Weissman ’52 and Harriet L. Weissman, Harvard librarian Brenda Bernier becomes the University Library’s first Paul M. and Harriet L. Weissman Senior Photograph Conservator. The Weissmans’ generosity also created the Library’s Weissman Preservation Center in 2000.

Before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Medical School Cell Biology Department Chair Joan S. Brugge argues for increased federal funding for research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

The Divinity School hosts a panel on the ethical dimensions of stem cell research, as viewed through three major religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and faculty members from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

The Wasserstein family gives $25 million to the Law School to construct a new academic center to be called Wasserstein Hall (architect: Robert A.M. Stern), which will adjoin a new student center and clinical center. Together, the new structures constitute the most ambitious building project in the School’s history. Construction of the 250,000-square-foot facility will begin this summer at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Everett Street after the demolition of the Everett Street garage and the Wyeth Hall dormitory.

The newly established School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (formerly a University division) unveils its new seal, based on the 1936 seal created for the now-defunct Harvard School of Engineering by Pierre de Chaignon la Rose, Class of 1895.

The Kennedy School of Government announces the establishment of the Broadmoor Project: New Orleans Community Engagement Initiative, a formalization of the School’s existing collaboration with residents of New Orleans’ Broadmoor neighborhood, which sustained severe damage during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

April 2007

The 176-seat Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub opens in Loker Commons (basement of Memorial Hall). The new facility results from some two years of planning with undergraduates and College officials.

The College Admissions Office receives a new high of 22,955 applications for the Class of 2011. Records were set for the percentages of African Americans (10.7 percent), Asian Americans (19.6 percent), Latinos (10.1 percent), and Native Americans (1.5 percent) and overall economic diversity. On March 29, the office mails out 2,058 acceptances. The resulting 8.9 percent admission rate is the lowest in the College’s history. By mid-May, nearly 80 percent of those admitted choose to enter Harvard in September, maintaining Harvard’s yield as the highest by far among the nation’s selective colleges.

The Harvard Corporation approves the formation of the Department of Developmental and Regenerative Biology, the first academic department in Harvard history to be based in more than one University faculty. The new department will draw on the resources of the Harvard Medical School and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Chairing the new department are Doug Melton, the Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences (FAS), and David Scadden, the Gerald and Darlene Jordan Professor of Medicine (HMS).

During the spring, Harvard, BBN Technologies, and the city of Cambridge launch CitySense, a four-year project that will install 100 wireless sensors atop Cambridge streetlights, creating the world’s first citywide network of wireless sensors. Developed by Harvard and BBN scientists, the network will begin by monitoring air pollution and weather. Because CitySense is an open-source effort sponsored by the National Science Foundation, CitySense data may eventually become available to researchers around the world.

The American Forest and Paper Association honors Harvard’s recycling program with an award and hails the University’s success in a field (higher education) where recycling results are generally poor. Between June 2005 and June 2006, Harvard collected 2,616 tons of recyclable paper. In January 2007, Harvard’s recycling rate reached 48 percent.

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Theda Skocpol announces plans to step down from the deanship in June. She will continue as the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology.

Former Harvard Overseer David Rockefeller ’36 agrees to establish the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Curatorship of Asian Art in the University Art Museums. The new position is made possible by the increased value of Rockefeller’s 1957 endowment, which established the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professorship of Asian Art. Both positions commemorate his mother (1874-1948), a prominent Asian-art collector.

The Harvard Corporation approves the formation of a new three-year, joint-degree program at the Kennedy School of Government and the Business School. The first students will be admitted in fall 2008. To qualify, students must be admitted independently to each school. Those enrolled will work toward a master of business administration/master of public policy degree or a master of business administration/master of public administration-international development degree.

Kathleen Buckley, associate provost for science, and Russ Porter, executive director of the FAS Life Sciences Division, are appointed administrative heads of the newly formed Harvard University Science and Engineering Committee (see January). Buckley’s job title expands to make her associate provost for science and director of academics affairs for interdisciplinary science. Porter becomes associate provost and director of administration for interdisciplinary science.

In Sanders Theatre, cellist Matt Haimovitz ’96 joins the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra for the world premiere of the Cello Concerto by HRO Conductor/Music Senior Lecturer James Yannatos.

At Cambridge’s Charles Hotel, President-elect Drew G. Faust receives the 2007 Harvard College Women’s Professional Achievement Award. Tracy Nowski ’07 accepts the Harvard College Women’s Leadership Award.

May 2007

During the annual Arts First celebration, composer John Adams ’69, A.M. ’72, receives the Harvard Arts Medal.

In recognition of his longstanding efforts to enhance mutual understanding at Harvard, FAS Dean Jeremy Knowles receives the 2007 Faculty/Administrator Award of The Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations.

Harvard and four other institutions announce plans to launch a pioneering online project called the Encyclopedia of Life, which seeks to document each of Earth’s 1.8 million known species. The effort will be supported by $10 million from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and by $2.5 million from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Additional collaborating institutions include Chicago’s Field Museum; the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass.; the Smithsonian Institution; and the Biodiversity Heritage Library. The effort realizes an idea proposed in 2003 by Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gives a five-year, $5 million grant supporting the creation of the Financial Access Initiative (FAI), which seeks to produce research and data to help decision makers deliver effective financial services to poor people around the world. Scholars from Harvard, New York University (whose Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service is home base for the project), Yale, and Innovations for Poverty Action are collaborating on the new venture. Codirecting FAI are economics professors Sendhil Mullainathan (Harvard), Jonathan Morduch (NYU), and Dean Karlan (Yale). The managing director is Christina Barrineau, former head of the U.N. International Year of Microcredit.

The Biological Laboratories and the departments of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Chemistry celebrate the 70th anniversary of Bessie and Victoria, the beloved life-size Indian rhinoceros statues created by Katharine Lane Weems to stand guard at the Bio Labs main entrance. Weighing three tons each, they rank among the largest cast-bronze sculptures of the 20th century.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences approves the first steps required for replacing the undergraduate Core Curriculum with a new General Education curriculum (see February) that will bring the first complete overhaul of undergraduate education in almost three decades. A standing committee will report on transitional plans during the coming academic year.

Barbara J. Grosz, the Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences, is named interim dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, effective July 1. On that date, current Institute Dean Drew G. Faust takes up duties as Harvard’s 28th president.

The Center for International Development (Kennedy School of Government) receives $1.5 million from the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land, and Sea to support CID’s Fund for Sustainable Development. In 2006, a $2.5 million gift from the Ministry launched the FSD’s Sustainability Science Program, which seeks to foster shared prosperity and reduce poverty while preserving the environment.

Harvard’s University Operations Services receives a Cambridge Go Green Business Award for the 46 Blackstone St. project, a 44,000-square-foot project completed in May 2006 that transformed a former industrial property/brownfield site into office space. The project also received platinum certification (the highest rating and Harvard’s first) from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. Harvard won a Go Green Business Award in 2004 for its Green Campus Initiative.

Robert Darnton, the Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of European History at Princeton, is named director of the University Library and Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor, effective July 1. He will succeed Sidney Verba.

Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Cambridge University’s King’s College announce the creation of a Joint Center for History and Economics to foster interdisciplinary research and learning in the social sciences and the humanities. A Centre for History and Economics has existed at King’s College since 1991.

Plans are announced for the formal installation of Drew G. Faust as Harvard’s 28th president on Oct. 12 in the Tercentenary Theatre.

June 2007

Michael D. Smith, associate dean for computer science and engineering at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, was named dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

President Bok announced the approval of “a more unified academic calendar” that will begin early in September, with the fall term ending in December before winter break. The academic year will conclude by the end of May. The new calendar will not take effect before the academic year 2009-10.