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Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard's Journal

Brevia

November-December 2016

George Q. Daley

Photograph by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Public Affairs and Communications


George Q. Daley

Photograph by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Public Affairs and Communications

Medicine’s Man.

Pioneering stem-cell scientist George Q. Daley ’82, M.D. ’91, has been appointed dean of Harvard Medical School, effective January 1. He succeeds Jeffrey S. Flier, who concluded nine years of service on July 31. During an announcement-day conversation in August, Daley stressed the “very dynamic and exciting new curriculum” for current M.D. students and the “superb” research community—“one of the most creative and impactful on earth.” Funding that work will be a challenge, so the school will “necessarily be partnering” with local pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies—a sector Daley knows well. Diversifying his Crimson portfolio, he earned a Ph.D. from MIT in 1989, as a student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology; he has since seen long service on the medical and scientific advisory board of MPM Capital, a venture-financing firm. A profile of his work and emerging agenda appears at harvardmagazine.com/daley-16.

Lasker Honorand

Professor of medicine William G. Kaelin, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, shared the Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, among the premier prizes in medicine, with two other scientists for their discovery of the pathway by which cells sense and adapt to changes in the availability of oxygen.

Addressing Slavery

As Harvard begins to acknowledge its past connections to slavery (see harvardmag.com/harvard-slaves-16 and harvardmag.com/no-shield-16), Georgetown University, which profited from the 1838 sale of 272 slaves who worked on Jesuit plantations in Maryland, will give preference in admissions to descendants; rename buildings which honor the presidents who administered the sale; and promote research, among other actions.

Humanities Honorands

Recipients of the National Humanities Medal this year include Bass professor of English Louis Menand; trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, D.Mus. ’09; and Elaine Pagels, Ph.D. ’70, LL.D. ’13, of Princeton, an historian of religion.…Separately, other Harvard affiliates were nominated for National Book Awards, including poet Kevin Young ’92 (featured in “Elbow Room,” March-April); novelist Colson Whitehead ’91 (profiled in “The Literary Chameleon,” September-October); and Adam Cohen ’84, J.D. ’87, author of “Harvard’s Eugenics Era” (March-April). See the complete report at harvardmag.com/hum-medal-16.

Biomedical Boost

In September, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, an unusual philanthropy backed by the wealth of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ’06 and his wife, Priscilla Chan ’07, a pediatrician, unveiled a $3-billion, decade-long biomedical-research program. Recipients of an initial $600 million for a “biohub”—meant to bring scientists and engineers together, create new tools and technologies, and encourage more government and philanthropic support for the sector—are three Bay Area institutions: Stanford, Berkeley, and the biomedically focused University of California, San Francisco. When Boston Globe reporters somewhat anxiously waved the flag for the hometown biomedical academic-industrial complex, the program’s director, Cori Bargmann, of Rockefeller University (whence Stanford’s new president came), reassuringly said, “I’d bet on Boston being part of it.”

Funding the Faculty

Moving to allay rising professorial anxiety over scarce research funding, Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean Michael D. Smith last spring made $25 million of new resources from his office available over the next five years, to support their scholarship. The Dean’s Distribution, discretionary funds provided to each ladder faculty member annually, will rise from $1,000 to $2,000 for those with past sponsored-research funding, or in departments that get such funding, and to $4,000 for others. A Dean’s Competitive Fund for Promising Scholarship will make awards of $5,000 to $50,000 (up to $2.5 million per year) to enable promising new inquiries, bridge financing to sponsored support, or pay for essential equipment. Applications for initial funding were accepted in September and October; they are being reviewed by a multidisciplinary committee chaired by Barbara Grosz, Higgins professor of natural sciences.

An app forThat?

By reputation, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences students lead lonely lives of solitary research, apprenticing in the ways of scholarship. Harvard has given them a place to commune at Dudley House, in Lehman Hall, right on the Square. Diners in Dudley Cafe this fall found tabletop tent cards introducing the digital-era gateway to community: an invitation to download the Thrive@Harvard app.

On Other Campuses

Gearing up for a 15 percent expansion of its undergraduate enrollment as two new residences accommodating 800 students near completion next fall, Yale announced completion of a snap two-year financial-aid fundraising campaign: it brought in almost $286 million, exceeding the $250-million goal.…Facing continued budget stress, Berkeley has suspended a planned global higher-education “hub,” effectively a new satellite campus at which it and collaborating foreign institutions would launch professional-degree programs.…Stanford has banned hard liquor from campus student parties, except for events attended exclusively by graduate students.…Princeton, which plans aggressive spending given its strong endowment (see “The Tiger Roars,” 7 Ware Street, May-June, page 2), has begun outlining major building ambitions under its 10-year campus plan; areas of emphasis include engineering and applied science and the environmental institute; new residences to accommodate a 10 percent expansion of undergraduate enrollment; and enhanced pedestrian and bicycle routes.…General Electric Co., newly headquartered in Boston, joined and contributed $7.5 million to MIT’s energy initiative.…USC alumna Suzanne Dworak-Peck endowed that institution’s School of Social Work with a $60-million gift; it has been named in her honor.

Nota Bene

Recruiting restraint. The Ivy League has proposed that Division I members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association prohibit verbal offers from coaches to potential recruits until September 1 of the student’s junior year of high school, along with other limitations on telephone contact and recruiting at camps or clinics until that date. The intent is to end excessively early recruiting—including informal offers to women soccer and lacrosse players as early as middle school.

Virtual cs50. For 2016, the phenomenally successful introductory computer-science class is going more or less classroom-free. Instructor David J. Malan noted on the course blog: “I daresay we’ve been nearing the point for some time whereby it’s a better educational experience to watch CS50’s lectures online than attend them in person.” Accordingly, students are “asked” only to attend the first and last lectures in person; students who want to participate in intervening lectures that lend themselves to such interaction can sign up in advance “if they’d like to partake.”

Aaa affirmation. As Harvard prepared to refinance some $2 billion of long-term debt in early October, Moody’s Investors Services reconfirmed its Aaa(highest) rating, citing the University’s “exceptional strategic positioning” (with “extremely strong student demand and fundraising”) and “robust liquidity and superior absolute wealth” as “key credit strengths”—offset by “heavy budgetary reliance on endowment spending in the face of more muted investment performance, significant investment complexity requiring close oversight, and high financial leverage.” (On the endowment, see “The Endowment Ebbs.”)

Reshaping the square. Out of Town News, located in the former headhouse of the subway, faces replacement with that building’s pending conversion into a public information center; plans are being reviewed by the City of Cambridge, which owns the facility. And the iconic wedge-shaped building opposite, at the intersection of John F. Kennedy and Brattle Streets, now home to retailers such as the Curious George book store and Urban Outfitters, has been sold to developers who plan to expand and reconfigure the entire complex, extending down both street fronts, into an upscale retail mall and offices, “The Collection at Harvard Square”; regulatory review of the proposal is under way.

Gifts Gazette. Former New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, M.B.A. ’66, LL.D. ’14, is collaborating with the Kennedy School and the Business School on a $32-million executive-education program to train mayors and their aides; the funds will pay for research, curriculum development, and fellowships and travel expenses for the trainees.…And in a nifty bit of naming, the under-construction Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center, already honoring the donors who financed the makeover of Holyoke Center, will have a Moise Y. Safra Welcome Pavilion, recognizing a gift from the eponymous foundation of the Brazilian philanthropist, whose three children attended the College.

Miscellany. Hawaiian shirts come to Allston, as Trader Joe’s leased space for a store at Continuum, the mixed-use complex, created through a partnership between Harvard and a private developer, at the crossroads of new campus development: the intersection of North Harvard Street and Western Avenue.…Gotham alumni on the move: Joseph Kahn ’87, A.M. ’90, has been appointed managing editor of The New York Times, the second-ranking position in the newsroom; effective January 1, Faiza J. Saeed, J.D. ’91, a mergers-and-acquisitions specialist, becomes the first woman presiding partner of the Cravath, Swaine & Moore law firm.…What do the politically inclined do in an election year? The longtime executive director of the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics, Cathy A. McLaughlin, resigned to work on a presidential campaign, and IOP director Margaret A. Williams took a leave of absence to co-chair the transition team of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.

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