Campus & Community

Highlights of the year that was

long read

As Commencement closes another chapter of the Harvard story, here is a brief backward glance at some highlights of the year that was.

June 2007

Harvard and the city of Cambridge celebrate the Blackstone renovation (completed in 2006), which converted 46 Blackstone South into Harvard office space near Western Avenue and Memorial Drive. Harvard-donated property across the street (a 1922 utility switch house) was transformed into 33 units of affordable housing. By earning the highest rating of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, Blackstone became the first LEED Platinum total-renovation project east of the Mississippi, the first in higher education, and the first in a pre-1900 building.

July 2007

Drew Faust moves into Massachusetts Hall to take up duties as Harvard’s 28th president.

Michael D. Smith, the Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, becomes dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

The National Weather Service declares Harvard “StormReady,” certifying that the University is prepared to respond quickly and properly to severe weather. Harvard is the first university in New England and the first Ivy League school to earn the three-year renewable certification.

A Harvard delegation visits the Vera Foundry in Russia’s Voronezh region, where Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexey II blesses a set of Russian bells newly replicated from the 17 bells that have graced Lowell House since the early 1930s. After years of negotiation, Harvard earlier agreed to return the original bells (ranging from 22 pounds to 13 tons) to Moscow’s Danilov Monastery, their original home.

September 2007

Jeffrey S. Flier, the Caroline Shields Walker Professor of Medicine, becomes dean of the Faculty of Medicine.

The Business School launches the 2+2 Program, which grants college students early acceptance to the two-year M.B.A. program at the beginning of their senior year, provided that they graduate and complete two years of approved work experience with any of about 100 participating organizations. The program seeks to expand the School’s applicant pool to students who might not ordinarily consider a business degree or career.

Richard Taylor, the Herchel Smith Professor of Mathematics, shares the Shaw Prize in Mathematics with Robert Langlands “of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.” The award recognizes their work in unifying the fields of prime numbers and symmetry.

Quincy House gets new co-masters: Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Professor Lee Gehrke and his wife, artist Deborah Gehrke. The couple served as acting co-masters in 2006-07.

Bostonians Peter Brooke ’52, M.B.A. ’54 and his wife Anne Brooke announce plans to give their collection of 18 17th century Dutch and Flemish paintings to the University Art Museums.

Nine Harvard scientists receive five-year grants totaling $15 million from the National Institutes of Health through the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award and the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award programs. Pioneer Award recipients: Anaesthesia Professor Emery N. Brown, Molecular and Cellular Biology/Neurology Professor Takao Hensch, and Neurology Professor Frances Jensen. New Innovator Award recipients: Immunology and Infectious Diseases Assistant Professor Sarah Fortune; Medicine Instructors Levi Garraway and Konrad Hochedlinger, Medicine Assistant Professor Nir Hacohen, Surgery Assistant Professor Mark Johnson, and Chemistry and Chemical Biology Assistant Professor Alan Saghatelian.

Harvard announces an agreement with the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to limit greenhouse-gas emissions in the proposed 589,000-square-foot Allston Science Complex to one-half the amount produced by a typical laboratory building already meeting current national standards. The agreement is the first in the nation to legally bind a developer to reducing greenhouse gases beyond existing standards.

Sacvan Bercovitch, the Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature Emeritus, wins the Bode-Pearson Prize of the American Studies Association.

The Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations presents its medal to Dominican Republic President Leonel Antonio Fernández Reyna for his creation of the Foundation for Global Democracy and Development.

Former U.S. Representative James A. Leach (R-Iowa) becomes director of the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics.

The Provost’s Office approves a five-year budget and business plan to support the Advanced Leadership Initiative being developed by 13 faculty members. ALI will recruit senior leaders in business, law, the military, banking, education, and other professions who have reached the top of their game and are ready for a life of public service. Plans call for a pilot program of some 20 Senior Leadership Fellows by late 2008.

Drew Faust gives her first remarks as president at Morning Prayers in Appleton Chapel.

The Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences becomes the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the first new Harvard school since 1936, when the Graduate School of Public Administration (now the Kennedy School of Government) was established. Former DEAS Dean Venkatesh Narayanamurti heads the new school.

Before a Stadium crowd of 18,898, Harvard plays and wins its first night football game (24-17, against Brown), thanks to lights installed in October 2006. Plans call for one night game per season.

Dee Aker, deputy director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice (University of San Diego), arrives as the first Phillips Brooks House Fellow.

On the corner of Brattle and Story streets, the Harvard Extension School opens a state-of-the-art distance-education facility that allows online students around the world to take part in Cambridge-based classes.

October 2007

Drew Faust is formally installed as Harvard’s 28th president.

Tamara Elliott Rogers becomes vice president for alumni affairs and development. Rogers previously served as associate dean for advancement and planning at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority approves Harvard’s plans for the four-building Allston Science Complex, which will house the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and other emerging interdisciplinary scientific projects at Harvard. The complex will create 1 million square feet of new research space.

The J.P. Lemann family makes a major gift to endow the Brazil Studies Program.

The Harvard Stem Cell Institute holds a two-day Stem Cell Summit drawing some 500 leading international scientists and nonscientists in the field.

Supported by a two-year $400,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (Kennedy School of Government) launches its interdisciplinary Initiative on Religion in International Affairs, led by Public Policy Associate Professor Monica Duffy Toft and J. Bryan Hehir, the Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Religion and Public Life.

Philadelphia’s Board of Directors of City Trusts confers the 2007 John Scott Medal upon Joseph P. Vacanti, the John Homans Professor of Surgery and a pioneer in human tissue engineering. Given since 1834, the award salutes those whose inventions have made outstanding contributions to human “comfort, welfare, and happiness.”

After a grand renovation and a 30,000-square-foot expansion, the old Hasty Pudding Theatre (12 Holyoke St.) is dedicated as the New College Theatre.

The Memorial Church celebrates the publication of the fourth edition of “The Harvard University Hymn Book.”

The University announces the creation of a South Asia Initiative designed to enhance Harvard’s scholarly activities related to that part of the world. Chaired by Sugata Bose, the Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, an SAI steering committee will work to expand the number of professors focusing on South Asia, increase the number of scholarships and fellowships for students from the region, facilitate travel to the area for students and faculty, and bring more South Asian speakers to Harvard.

For the first time, the University’s recycling rate exceeds 50 percent. In 2002, the monthly record stood at 34 percent.

November 2007

During the annual Veterans Day Commemoration of Benefactors and of the War Dead, the Memorial Church celebrates the 75th anniversary of its dedication.

President Drew Faust creates a University-wide task force to examine the role of the arts (curricular and extracurricular) at Harvard, with an eye toward enhancing and supporting greater integration of the arts into University life. Cogan University Professor Stephen Greenblatt chairs the group.

The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative sends medicine instructor Susan Bartels and University of Illinois gynecologist Megan App to the Panzi Hospital in the eastern Congo to help doctors ministering to girls and women brutalized during the long-standing onslaught of large-scale sexual and other physical atrocities there.

Rhodes Scholarships go to two seniors and a recent graduate: Clara L. Blättler ’08, Sammy K. Sambu ’08, and Shayak Sarkar ’07.

Richard Pipes, the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of History Emeritus, and Ruth R. Wisse, the Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature, receive the National Humanities Medal at the White House.

Harvard School of Public Health Dean Barry R. Bloom announces his intention to step down at the end of June 2008.

The Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society receives $4 million from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. It is the largest gift in the center’s history.

The Rev. Professor Peter J. Gomes, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, journeys to London’s Southwark Cathedral to help celebrate the 400th anniversary of John Harvard’s birth and baptism.

Harvard joins in celebrations for the 200th anniversary of Boston’s Allston-Brighton community.

The trust of late media executive Frank Stanton gives $1 million each to the Kennedy School of Government (for an annual lecture on freedom of the press), the Law School (for a postgraduate fellowship on the First Amendment), and the Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Health Communication.

The Game. Harvard wins, 37-6, taking the Ivy League crown in a perfect season. Both teams enter the Yale Bowl with perfect seasons — the first such matchup since the fabled 29-29 contest of 1968.

December 2007

Harvard Management Company President Mohamed A. El-Erian steps down to return to his former company, the Pacific Investment Management Co.

The Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership receives a $20 million bequest from Alan L. Gleitsman establishing the Gleitsman Program in Leadership for Social Change. The program will train students to become leaders as social entrepreneurs and social activists.

The University and Charlesview Inc. sign a purchase-and-sale agreement that will result in the construction of a new apartment complex for Allston residents on Harvard-owned land. As part of the agreement, Charlesview Inc. will exchange its land at Western Avenue and North Harvard Street for 6.9 acres of Harvard land farther west on Western Avenue. The swapped Charlesview land will become part of Harvard’s future Allston campus.

President Drew Faust and FAS Dean Michael D. Smith announce a new financial-aid program to make the College more affordable for middle-income families. The new program reduces the expected family contribution from households with incomes below $180,000, replaces student loans (in financial aid packages) with Harvard grants, and eliminates home equity as a factor in determining a family’s ability to pay for college.

January 2008

Mohsen Mostafavi, former dean of the Cornell College of Architecture, Art and Planning, becomes dean of the Graduate School of Design.

Donald Pfister, the Asa Gray Professor of Systematic Botany, becomes dean of the Harvard Summer School.

Allan M. Brandt, the Amalie Moses Kass Professor of the History of Medicine, becomes dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Harvard adopts a coordinated, University-wide academic calendar that takes effect in 2009-10. One long-sought boon to students: midyear exams in December, before winter recess.

College applications soar to an all-time high of 27,462 in Harvard’s first year after ending the Early Action program. (The previous record, set in 2007, was 22,955.) The huge pool also produces the lowest admission rate (7.1 percent) in College history.

February 2008

Hasty Pudding Theatricals picks Charlize Theron as Woman of the Year and Christopher Walken as Man of the Year.

The Northeast Asian History Foundation gives a five-year, $1 million grant supporting the Korea Institute’s Early Korea Project.

To enhance the distribution of faculty research and scholarship, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences votes to give the University a worldwide license to make each faculty member’s scholarly articles available and to hold the copyright for them, so long as they are not sold for profit. The move seeks in part to overcome the inhibiting effects of (1) scholarly journals that often prevent scholars from using and distributing their own work and (2) journal prices so high that many institutions and individuals cancel their subscriptions.

Harvard introduces “H-Link,” an Internet application connecting students’ courses and classmates through the popular Facebook social utility. H-Link allows students to network with Facebook friends in their courses.

At the Kennedy School of Government, Mexican President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa reviews the accomplishments of his administration.

Indiana University (IU) publishes Sound Directions: Best Practices for Audio Preservation, a major set of protocols developed by Loeb Music Library audio engineer Bruce Gordon and IU audio engineer Mike Casey. The report also includes 40 pieces of software designed at Harvard under the supervision of Loeb audio engineer David Ackerman.

The University Library’s Open Collections Program (est. 2002) launches a Web site on “Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics.” The online resource includes more than 500,000 pages of digitized books, pamphlets, serials, incunabula, and manuscripts illuminating the multifaceted role of disease in human history.

University of Chicago legal scholar Cass R. Sunstein accepts a professorial appointment at the Law School, where he will direct the new Program on Risk Regulation. The new effort will examine issues such as terrorism, climate change, occupational safety, infectious diseases, and natural disasters.

University Bands Director Thomas G. Everett receives the 2008 Luise Vosgerchian Teaching Award for his exceptional contributions to Harvard’s musical life over more than 36 years.

The Visual and Environmental Studies Department announces the creation of a doctoral program in film studies, scheduled to begin in fall 2009.

President Drew Faust appoints a task force of students, faculty, and administrators charged with recommending strategies for reducing Harvard’s greenhouse gas emissions. Chairing the group is William C. Clark, the Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science Public Policy and Human Development.

March 2008

President Drew Faust and the heads of six other major research universities testify before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to advocate increased funding for the National Institutes of Health.

The Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital receives a five-year, $20.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand an international program studying how the AIDS virus (HIV) controls the immune system. The International HIV Controllers Study involves scientists from more than a dozen nations.

The Law School announces that it will waive tuition for future third-year students who agree to devote at least five years after law school to jobs in public service. Students must prove their commitment by earning credits for public-service activities in appropriate summer jobs and internships.

Oxford University Press publishes the African American National Biography, an eight-volume series containing more than 4,000 life histories compiled by Alphonse Fletcher University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies. The series is the most comprehensive work of its kind ever published.

RMJM, the British-based international architectural firm, gives $1.5 million to the Graduate School of Design to establish the RMJM Program for Research and Education in Integrated Design Practice. The program seeks to produce architects who can balance aesthetic and budgetary concerns through grounding in management principles and technological know-how.

Harvard and the city of Boston sign a cooperation agreement outlining more than $25 million in new community programs and neighborhood improvements. The education portal at 175 North Harvard St. is the planned first step, giving Allston-Brighton residents more direct access to community programs at Harvard, math and science tutoring for all school-age Allston children, and public science lectures. Harvard will also create new parks, public open spaces, and walkways, and will support job-training and housing initiatives in the neighborhood. Construction proceeds on the Allston Science Complex.

Endowment manager Jane Mendillo is appointed president and CEO of the Harvard Management Company (HMC) starting July 1, 2008. HMC handles the University’s investment portfolio.

The World Economic Forum names Harvard Negotiation Project Associate Director Daniel L. Shapiro as one of its Young Global Leaders for 2008.

Medical School Dean Jeffrey Flier announces plans for reducing four-year medical-education costs by up to $50,000 for families with incomes of $120,000 or less. About a third of current Harvard medical students will benefit from the change. The Medical School also plans to make major renovations to the 23-year-old Tosteson Medical Education Center.

President Drew Faust leads a University delegation to the People’s Republic of China. In Shanghai, she attends the sixth Harvard Alumni Association Global Series, which focuses on East Asia. More than 630 Harvard graduates from 27 nations attend. In Beijing, Faust receives an honorary degree from Peking University.

April 2008

Karen Beck ’08 accepts the 11th Women’s Leadership Award from the Harvard College Women’s Center.

FAS Dean Michael D. Smith announces plans for a comprehensive 15-year renovation of the 12 undergraduate residential Houses, which were last completely overhauled in the early 1980s when the House system was 50 years old. Strategic and financial plans for the effort are scheduled for submission to President Drew Faust and the Harvard Corporation in December 2008.

A gift from Pierre Keller of Geneva establishes a Program on Transatlantic Relations at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Keller was a CFIA fellow in 1979-80.

The Arnold Arboretum unveils the first online installment of its Seed Herbarium Image Project (SHIP), a collection of high-resolution digital photographs documenting the morphology of seeds and fruits. SHIP is a unique reference for everyone interested in plants, from horticulturalists to scientists and educators.

In the journal Nature, a team led by Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Professor Gonzalo Giribet publishes results of a comprehensive DNA survey of 77 animal species. The findings settle several long-standing evolutionary controversies and support major changes in certain branches of the evolutionary tree of life.

During the five-month Environmental Competition 2008 involving 13 buildings of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, William James Hall and Hoffman Laboratory come out on top for factors such as high recycling rates, reduced energy consumption, and the use of green materials and cleaners. In all, the 13 buildings racked up impressive achievements, such as saving 229 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, which translates to removing 42 cars from the road for a year.

The Harvard Theological Review, one of the nation’s oldest theological journals, marks its centennial with a day of talks at the Divinity School.

Pathology Assistant Professor Charles Lee wins Korea’s 2008 Ho-Am Prize in Medicine for his work in human genomic variation.

President Drew Faust announces the appointment of Barbara J. Grosz, the Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences, as dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, effective July 1, 2008. Grosz has served as interim dean since July 2007.

Former Overseers President David Rockefeller ’36 pledges $100 million to enhance undergraduate learning through international experience and involvement in the arts. Rockefeller’s is the largest gift from an alumnus in Harvard history.

The BASF Advanced Research Initiative at Harvard holds a two-day inaugural symposium on biofilms. BASF, the German-based international chemical company, has committed $20 million over five years to support a University-industry collaboration based in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The Harvard University Art Museums adopts the new umbrella name of Harvard Art Museum to reflect its unified collections and administration. The museum components (Fogg, Sackler, Busch-Reisinger, and research facilities such as the Straus Center for Conservation) will retain their identities. The Fogg building will close to the public on June 30 to prepare for major renovations starting in 2009. Selected works from the Fogg will be shown at the Sackler.

President Drew Faust appoints a University-wide steering committee (chaired by Lizabeth Cohen, the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies; and Design School Dean Mohsen Mostafavi) to explore ways of enhancing Harvard’s public spaces in Cambridge to support the institution’s intellectual and social vitality.

The U.S. Fencing Association selects Emily Cross ’08 for the U.S. Olympic team that will compete in the Beijing summer games. Incoming freshman Noam Mills is selected for the Israeli women’s Olympic fencing team (Accepted last year, Mills deferred her entrance until this fall to train for the games). The two women are the first Harvard women fencers to qualify for the Olympics.

Chemistry/chemical biology doctoral candidate Luisa Gronenberg and divinity student Patrick Comstock outmuscle 23 other hopefuls in the first Harvard Strength Competition at the Malkin Athletic Center.

The Harvard Undergraduate Research Journal (THURJ), created and co-edited by sophomores Shoshana Tell and John Zhou, publishes its inaugural issue.

Former Divinity School Dean Krister Stendahl, the Andrew W. Mellon professor of Divinity Emeritus, dies at age 86.

May 2008

The Asia Center celebrates its first decade with two days of lectures and seminars.

Nina Zipser becomes dean for faculty affairs in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Six members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences obtain five-year appointments as Harvard College Professors: Romance languages scholar Virginie Greene, economist David I. Laibson, biomedical researcher Douglas Melton, psychologist Steven Pinker, geologist John H. Shaw, and medieval English-literature scholar James W. Simpson. The positions honor those who have made outstanding contributions to undergraduate teaching, mentoring, and advising.

Two FAS junior-faculty members receive the Roslyn Abramson Awards for excellence in undergraduate teaching: History and Literature/Folklore and Mythology Assistant Professor Lisa Brooks and David Parkes, the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences.

Three head coaching positions in the Athletics Department receive endowments. Former All-Ivy lacrosse midfielder Richard D. Frisbie ’71, J.D. ’74 announces the establishment of the Frisbie Family Endowed Coach for Men’s Lacrosse. The first incumbent is John Tillman. Former All-America swimmer and rower RoAnn Costin ’74 creates the Costin Family Endowed Coach for Women’s Swimming and Diving. Shortly afterwards, C. Kevin Landry ’66 and family establish the Landry Family Head Coach for Harvard Women’s Ice Hockey.

At the annual David Aloian Dinner in Quincy House, the Harvard Foundation presents its 2008 Faculty/Administrator Award to former College Dean Benedict H. Gross, the George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Mathematics. More than 40 students also receive honors for their work in promoting intercultural understanding at Harvard.

On Memorial Day in the Memorial Church, the Harvard Veterans Alumni Organization holds a service of remembrance for the University’s more than 1,200 war dead and all the nation’s deceased war veterans. Officiating is U.S. Navy Chaplain Alexander Daley ’57.

At a Memorial Church service, friends and colleagues remember former FAS Dean Jeremy R. Knowles, the Amory Houghton Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, who died on April 3.

June 2008

Evelynn Hammonds, the Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies, becomes dean of Harvard College.