While You Were Out
What Harvard Did During Your Summer Vacation
President Bok evidently wasn't too worried about the shop this summer--he took off for a two-month "working" vacation in fray.
Nor was John B. Fox Jr. '59, dean of the College--he found time to take a few weeks in England with his family. And Dean of Students Archive C. Epps III went to England too as he normally does each summer, to the country city of Bath.
Still, the place didn't shut down entirely Harvard won a long standing dispute with another college over a major federal research grant A number of academic departments gained new tenured professors. And throughout the University, numerous scientists made headlines for new discoveries.
Ed School Grant
Harvard officials breathed a sigh of reef when the government upheld a $7 million grant to the Graduate School of Education for a school-technology center.
The ruling by the General Accounting Office (GAO) marked an important step in resolving year-old charges that the National Institute of Education (NIE) played favorites by awarding the money to Harvard over Bank St. College of New York.
Bank St. had argued that the award was improper because the NIE director, Manuel J. Justiz, had ignored the advice of a technical review panel that the New York college get the money instead. The panel gave Bank St. slightly higher marks for technical merit and economy, but Justiz was understood to have chosen Harvard because of the larger scope of its proposal and its greater resources.
Bank St. was also angry over charges that another NIE official had given Harvard and MIT, which was also bidding for the grant, an unfair advantage by informing the schools that their bids were $2 million over the agency's estimate for the project.
Both Harvard and MIT subsequently lowered their bids to near NIE's $7.7 million figure while Bank St. remained unaware that it had underbid dramatically with its $4.5 million proposal.
In squashing Bank St.'s complaints, the GAO ruled that the regulations governing the competition were matters of internal policy guidance--not law--and hence not grounds for disallowing the contract. Bank St. has vowed, to appeal, but time rolls on and Harvard's new center will soon move into its second year of operation.
Students leave Cambridge in June, but most professors do not, especially scientists, whose lab experiments do not run by the academic calendar. The past summer saw a number of Harvard scientists step into the limelight with the announcement of a new finding or discovery.
For Carlo Rubbia, public attention is becoming old hat. Rubbia, professor of Physics, smashes atoms--a particularly fruitful line of work of late--and he has been doing ground-breaking experimentation that scientists hope will confirm much recent theoretical thinking about the forces of nature.
This summer Rubbia found the sixth quark, one of the most sought-after discoveries in modern physics. Quarks are thought to be the basic building blocks of all larger atomic particles. Scientists have long predicted the existence of six quarks; five were known, and Rubbia's finding completed the roster.
Harvard scientists also announced progress in another hot area of scientific research--the battle to fight Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). A number of researchers at the School of Public Health have been at the forefront of the fight against this often deadly killer, which has disproportionately affected gay men.
This summer a team led by Associate Professor of Microbiology William A. Haseltine announced that it may have found a gene that is responsible for the disease, as well as certain kinds of cancer.
Haseltine and his associates figured out how a leukemia virus--known as HTLV-1--takes control and infects blood cells. They believe that a similar process is at work when HTLV-3 viruses--which is believed to be the cause of AIDS--attack cells. And they think that some genetic material in this family of viruses is the culprit.
But perhaps the most widely publicized scientific event of the summer was not a discovery but a saving. Harvard doctors used a new method of growing sheets of skin from tiny samples to save the lives of two young brothers, who suffered burns over almost all of their bodies in a freak accident.
Dr. Howard Green, chairman of the Physiology Department at the Medical School, has pioneered a method of growing a one-inch-square sample of skin and in three or four weeks cultivating enough new skin to cover an entire body.
The method proved a lifesaver to brothers Lame and Glen Selby of Caspar, Wyo, who were burned after they playfully painted their bodies, tried to remove the paint with a solvent and then came into contact with a flame.
Dr. G. Gregory Gallico, a plastic surgeon at the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, used skin grown in Green's laboratories to cover the burned bodies, gaining press attention from across the country.
One of Harvard's smallest departments, the Celtic Department, completed a major turnover in personnel by hiring a specialist in Irish literature from University College Cork, Ireland.
Sean O'Coileam, a native speaker of Irish, will become the chairman of the only university department in the country devoted solely to Celtic languages and literatures.
The department's previous chairman, Robinson Professor of Celtic Languages and Literature Charles W. Dunn, retired in June. Another full professor, John V. Kelleher, has moved to part-time duties.
Meanwhile, the Department of Germanic Literatures and Languages broke a long hiring drought by tenuring a Smith College expert in modern German literature.
The appointment of Judith Ryan came after the department had received several turndowns of offers, as well as getting mired in some internal division over what kind of appointments to make. Ryan becomes the Faculty's 22nd woman tenured professor.
A Cornell German specialist, Sander L. Gilman, is still mulling over a University offer.
The Government Department was also a beehive of activity.
The biggest news was the announcement of an unusual tenure agreement concerning one of Harvard's most famous scholars, Shattuck Professor of Government James Q. Wilson.
Wilson was granted a tenured position at the University of California at Los Angeles. In what officials termed an unprecedented move, Harvard allowed Wilson to keep his Harvard chair for the next three years, during which he will divide his time between the two schools.
Wilson, a native Californian and one of the country's foremost experts on crime and bureaucracy, said that at the end of the three years he will choose between the two.
Until then he will keep himself busy working on, among other things, on a 26-episode TV series--to be aired, on public stations--on crime and criminal behavior.
Department members also announced the revamping of their graduate studies program in what they called the department's biggest reform in 30 years.
Professors said the restructuring and tightening of the requirements for government graduate students grew out of the feeling that the current program was too specialized. They hope the changes will help the grads where it counts--in finding jobs in the ever-tough academic market.
Little short of a revelation will startle the quiet scholars who inhabit Andover Hall, but this summer came pretty close. The Harvard Divinity School is in the midst of an unprecedented turnover in Faculty, and now is looking for seven full-time professors.
The biggest loss was that of Mellon Professor of Divinity Krister Stendahl, who announced plans to leave Harvard this September to become the Bishop of Stockholm in the Church of Sweden Stendahl, who came to Harvard from Sweden 30 years ago, is one of the world's foremost authorities on The New Testament, and he served as dean of the school from 1968 to 1979.
Along with his departure, resignations and the coincidental ending of three associate professors' terms put the school in the market for six more professors. Two of the openings are at the tenured level, and three are at the junior level. Two others, in Christian historical theology and archeology, have optional ranks, and the school is reviewing candidates at all levels.
Significantly, among the new openings is the school's first position--a junior-level job--in Afro-American Religion. The next tenured professor at the school will also be the first such new appointment in seven or eight years, administrators say. There are 40 faculty members at the Div School, including 15 part-time professors.
Robert M. Coles '50, professor of Psychiatry and Medical Humanities, is no stranger to conflict, but he may have waded into the hottest controversy of his career--children and nuclear war. For several years now, a group of doctors and psychiatrists, many of them Harvard-affiliated, has put forth the idea that the threat of nuclear war poses a unique psychological danger to children--an idea with which Coles now takes issue.
In a widely publicized speech in Los Alamos, N.M., Coles presented recent research findings in which he attacks as methodologically flawed studies that conclude that the threat of nuclear war has terrorized children.
Instead, says the celebrated child psychiatrist, interviews he conducted around the country indicate that children--especially those from working-class families--have reacted to the nuclear age with far less fear than psychiatric research has indicated.
On other fronts, Harvard professors busily stirred up controversy. Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz began a one-man campaign to get the University to award honorary degrees to Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, his wife Yelena Bonner, and other political prisoners and dissidents.
Unfortunately for Dershowitz's proposal. Harvard has a policy of not conferring honorary degrees on people who can't show up in Cambridge personally to receive the honor--a fact cited by President Bok in a letter responding to the professor's request.
But Dershowitz has not given up hope. "Bok's attitude is a thing of the past," he says. Expressing hope for a mass movement of students and faculty, he says, "Bok doesn't seriously consider things unless he feels that not to do something would create more hassle than to do something."
Meanwhile, yet another outspoken faculty member, Professor of Biology Ruth Hubbard '45, is continuing her crusade to win the right to travel to Cuba.
But that effort was dealt a serious setback when the Supreme Court upheld the Reagan Administration's restrictions on personal travel to the country. Hubbard and two other women sued President Reagan in 1982 after the government prevented them from going on a fact-finding tour of Cuba. Hubbard says the group will try to get the High Court to overturn its decision.
When the union that represents Harvard's Food Service workers signed a contract with the University last summer after a one-day flash strike--one of the provisions they won was an agreement that Harvard not subcontract any of its work out to outside firms if any union employee laid off or take a cut in hours.
That provision was tested this summer when the Business School decided to hire the Marriott Corporation, a national food chain, to manage its dining halls. Officials called it an effort to bring the school's facilities up to restaurant standards.
But officials with the union, Local 26 of the Hotel, Restaurant, Institutional Employees and Bartenders Union, expressed fear that the switch may eventually enable Harvard to replace its workers with non-union employees.
For now there will be no change for the Food Service workers at the B-School, who will work for Marriott under the same contract they signed with Harvard. But Marriott has made no commitment for after the contract expires in 1986, and union officials say it will be a difficult struggle to negotiate a similar pact at that point.
Harvard administrators have big plans to computerize the campus, and a man who will who have a lot of input into the project logged on this summer.
The University tapped Steven C. Hall, a 20-year veteran of the computer industry, to head its Office of Information Technology. As chief of the office that oversees Harvard's sprawling computer services, Hall is expected to play an major role in helping Harvard set up a network connecting computers around campus.
Those leaving Cambridge, on the other hand, will probably include Bromley Professor of Law Paul M. Bator. After spending the last 18 months as Deputy Solicitor General in the Justice Department, Bator was tapped by President Reagan for a federal appellate court judgeship.
If Congress approves the nomination as expected, Bator will resign his professorship this fall.
And Professor of Chinese and Central Asian History Joseph F. Fletcher '57, one of the world's leading specialists on inner Asia, died after a long battle with cancer.
Fletcher, who fought to continue teaching despite his illness, was known as an excellent instructor, and won the Levenson Teaching Prize from undergraduates in 1983. In January 1983, after an extended stay in the hospital, Fletcher returned to his class, Historical Study B-14, "Empire of the Mongols."
"One thing that happens when you face death, as I did and do, is you discover what your priorities are. It's important to have fun--lots of us forget that," he told his students at the time. "In facing my priorities," he said, "I realized I love teaching this course."