The Names in the News

Ten of this year's most interesting, influential and intriguing personalities

B. J. Averell '02

Sophomore B. J. Averell can teach would-be activists a thing or two about standing up to The Man. In November he took on an international airline, a district attorney and several peeved security guards--and beat the system.

Averell was trying to get home to Collingswood, N.J. for Thanksgiving when he showed up at Logan Airport on Nov. 24 for his flight to Philadelphia.

Averell says he arrived on time, but Delta Airlines ticket agents shunted him into different lines. By the time he made it to the gate, the flight had begun boarding standby passengers. Even though he had a ticket, Averell was denied a seat on the 6:15 p.m. flight. The agents told him they would try to get him on a standby flight--on Thanksgiving morning.

Undeterred, he slipped behind a pillar, dodged the gate attendant, passed the barrier and walked down the ramp all but unnoticed. Averell hid in a bathroom on the plane, intending to find an empty seat later.

Unfortunately, another passenger spotted him. Flight attendants ejected him from the plane and delivered him to airport police, who handcuffed him on the tarmac. He was arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Averell's daring tactics ignited a small media storm that was covered in papers and on television stations across the country. Back at Harvard, he found himself something of a celebrity.

"When I came back to school I was pretty much a bad-ass," Averell says. "One guy came up to me at Tommy's and said, 'I read about your story. You live out our dreams for us, man.'"

Although confessing to the crimes would have only resulted in a small fine, Averell pled not guilty. In February, Delta and state prosecutors dropped the charges.

Did his courtroom odyssey make him a role model for the oppressed everywhere? Averell is modest about his accomplishments.

"I was just fighting for the rights of the little man, my fellow college student," he says.

John A. Burton '01

For a few weeks in February, the saga of Undergraduate Council Vice President John A. Burton '01 was better than Court TV. Burton's almost-impeachment and narrow redemption offered students the drama of a national political scandal amid the comforts of home.

Burton and his presidential running mate Fentrice D. Driskell '01 were riding high after clobbering the competition in the December elections. Burton took 400 votes more than his closest opponent. Council watchers proclaimed that Driskell and Burton would reverse the conservatism of past presidents Noah Z. Seton '00 and Beth A. Stewart '00 and inaugurate a new era of liberal activism.

That was until Buttongate. Shortly after the election, other candidates began muttering about alleged improprieties in the Driskell-Burton campaign--a mass mailing to first-years, inappropriately obtained lemonade.

But a batch of buttons from the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters' Alliance (BGLTSA) proved the most damning issue. A box in the BGLTSA's resource center invited students to take buttons--but board members said they didn't expect Burton to take all of them, more than 100, and cover them over with the Driskell-Burton logo.

Furious, 10 council members, including some defeated opponents of the Driskell campaign, filed articles of impeachment against Burton.

Political intrigue swirled for weeks, as accusations flew and former Burton allies (including an ex-roommate) called for his resignation.

National reporters were drawn to the scandal by its resemblance to the Clinton impeachment in miniature. The Boston Globe covered the vote, and Newsweek ran a feature.

The council's vote on Feb. 13 was close. The first article of impeachment, accusing Burton of lying, failed to win a majority. The second, for infringing on the rights of a student group, carried 41 to 38 but did not achieve the necessary two-thirds majority to remove the vice president.

When it was all over, the Burton trial tarnished the already blackened reputation of the council even further. More than a month of Driskell and Burton's term was consumed by jockeying and legal maneuvering.

But at least students paid attention--the impeachment debates drew packed houses and spurred weeks of dining hall conversation. For a legislative body that's often ignored, there may not be such a thing as bad publicity.

Lawrence Lessig

When Thomas Penfield Jackson, the judge presiding over the Microsoft antitrust trial, wanted help sifting through the labyrinth of technical issues surrounding the case, he turned to Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies Lawrence Lessig. If Microsoft is broken up, as is widely expected, Lessig will have provided critical ammunition for the government's slingshot.

Lessig, the author of Code, and Other Laws of Cyberspace, is one of the most prominent scholars in the fast-growing field of Internet law.

Whereas many Internet pioneers tend to see cyberspace as inherently free, competitive and accessible, Lessig takes a darker view: democratic ideals won't automatically translate onto the Net. Corporations and government, he warns, could wind up controlling the infrastructure of the Internet unless they're actively checked.

That anti-monopoly message understandably made Bill Gates, Class of 1977, and colleagues nervous. When Jackson initially tried to appoint Lessig a special master on the case, Microsoft objected vehemently.

But Lessig had his say anyway. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed Feb. 1, he argued that Microsoft broke antitrust law by bundling Windows and Internet Explorer. Jackson leaned on Lessig's opinion in his landmark ruling against the company.

Lessig's Microsoft brief made him famous, but he's not resting on his laurels. Last month he told The New York Times that the pending AOL-Time Warner merger makes him "deeply, deeply pessimistic." Steve Case and Gerald Levin couldn't be blamed if they're feeling nervous.

Although he says he loves Harvard Law School and its Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Lessig plans to leave for Stanford in the fall for family reasons. "The loss is incalculable," one colleague said.

Even in his brief tenure, Lessig has proven that professors who stay on top of surging changes in technology will prosper. As policymakers stumble through the Internet maze, they will increasingly turn to academics like Lessig to be their guides.

K. Kyriell Muhammad

As a House adviser for gay and lesbian issues, Mather resident tutor K. Kyriell Muhammad counseled students grappling with the effects of homophobia. A poster on his door proclaimed his room a "BGLTS Safe Zone."

But Muhammad himself left Harvard at the end of January after he was subject to sporadic anti-gay vandalism for a semester. His experience offered troubling proof that intolerance sometimes occurs even at famously liberal Harvard.

The harassment started in late September, when a picture of Muhammad in a gown was removed from his door. Then he found homophobic graffiti on his message pad. Posters advertising the House's Queer Film Series were defaced and torn down. Some gay students in Winthrop House faced similar vandalism.

The House responded with anger at the harassment and support for Muhammad. More than 300 Mather residents signed a pledge entitled "We Live Here Together," and the House committee posted a declaration of tolerance in the dining hall. The masters and police pledged to track down the culprits.

But Muhammad continued to be a target--he was awakened one night by the sound of a vandal battering against his door.

In December, Muhammad announced he would resign his post and leave Harvard at the end of the semester.

"It's horrifying and shameful. People shouldn't have to leave their homes and jobs because of homophobic acts," said Michael K. T. Tan '01, co-chair of the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters' Alliance.

Muhammad said he was heartened by students' vocal concern but decided staying on would consume him emotionally.

"I don't get paid to live here. I don't get paid to get harassed!" he said. "This was just an unacceptable living situation."

Dora Gyorffy '01

Many Harvard students reach new heights each year in their endeavors.

For Dora Gyorffy '01, the phrase can be used literally.

Over her three-year career on the Harvard track team, Gyorffy has excelled in both the high jump and triple jump. For the third straight time, she won the high jump and triple jump at this year's Indoor Heptagonals.

But this year, Gyorffy's accomplishments were a step above those of previous seasons. This winter she tied the NCAA indoor high jump record of 1.97 meters--and only stopped because her shoe tore apart, preventing her from attempting to break the record.

Just two weeks later she took the national indoor title with a jump of 1.94 meters and a week ago earned second place in the NCAA outdoor meet with a jump of 1.87 meters.

Along with captain Brenda N. Taylor '01, who excelled in the 400 meters and several sprinting events this season, Gyorffy's efforts have helped establish the once-obscure Harvard team on the national track scene.

"As they made the announcement that we were winning, all the Texas people were saying, 'Harvard? They do track over there?'" Taylor said after a meet in Texas this spring. "It was great."

Gyorffy has piled up a stack of accolades--All-American, Outstanding Female Athlete of the Meet at Outdoor Heptagonals--but she hopes the most important one is yet to come.

Earlier this spring, she learned that she will represent her native Hungary in the Olympics this September, and she will spend this summer training in hopes that she can match or beat her NCAA-record jump of this year.

"In an Olympic final, anything can happen," Gyorffy says. "So, I just want to do the best I am capable of on that day. If I leave the track knowing that I did what I could that day, I will be satisfied no matter what."

D. Quinn Mills and PSLM

The expansion of benefits for casual workers this spring was remarkable for two reasons. Harvard students, normally apolitical, spoke out loudly. And Harvard administrators, normally invulnerable to student activism, listened to them.

After a year of fact-finding and deliberating, a committee chaired by Weatherhead Professor of Business Administration D. Quinn Mills issued recommendations in May that will significantly improve quality of life for the University's most marginal employees.

Committee members, in turn, credited members of Living Wage Campaign, part of the Progressive Student Labor Movement (PSLM), for providing the impetus for change.

Mills' Ad Hoc Committee on Employment Policies called for extending health care and job training benefits to virtually all University employees, including casual and sub-contracted workers who had previously been only spottily covered. They also asked Harvard to expand a pilot literacy program.

But the committee rejected students' central demand--that Harvard pay a minimum wage of $10.25 to all its workers. Mills said he was "in broad principle in agreement" with the living wage but that the proposal was impractical and too rigid.

PSLM members applauded the changes but said they wouldn't give up on a wage increase.

Other activist groups might not have had the stamina to continue, but the Living Wage Campaign has displayed enormous staying power. The group has organized several large rallies, including some of Harvard's most creative demonstrations in years.

During pre-frosh weekend, PSLM staged a teach-in in Byerly Hall to the consternation of admissions officers. In May, they brought actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Class of 1992, to the steps of Littauer to blast Harvard for dawdling on the issue.

Mills' committee and PSLM's activists didn't agree on every point. But their sometimes testy relationship produced real results, and a benefits policy that could improve workers' lives.

Drew Gilpin Faust

The criteria for the first permanent dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study were formidable. President Neil L. Rudenstine was looking for a middle-aged female academic with solid professional credentials, a commitment to gender issues, leadership ability and administrative talent, who was willing to pull up stakes, move to Cambridge and sort through the host of pressing decisions awaiting a new dean.

But nearly everyone at Harvard and Radcliffe agrees that Drew Gilpin Faust will do nicely. After the appointment of Faust, a historian from the University of Pennsylvania, was announced April 2, the praise--and relief--from both quarters was palpable.

"This is the best appointment Harvard's made in years," said Harvard Dean of Freshmen Elizabeth Studley Nathans.

"[She] gives us a focus, an intellectual center. Now there's someone in authority," said Radcliffe Dean for Educational Programs Tamar March.

Faust is a specialist in the Civil War and the author of the well-regarded Mothers of Invention. Currently the director of Penn's women's studies program, she will reassure older alumnae who fear the Institute might shed its historical attention to women.

Before last year's merger, Radcliffe College was accustomed to distant, fractured leadership. Radcliffe's deans hope Faust will bring a firm hand and the intellectual gravitas the Institute will need to establish itself in its first years.

She will control a $350 million endowment and will have authority to decide a range of important questions, from the focus of the Institute's programs to plans for the Agassiz Theatre and Byerly Hall.

The new dean has signaled that she will stand up for her beliefs. The only woman on the Dean's Council, she promises to be an "agitator" for the concerns of women, including female undergraduates.

Shaping the Institute would challenge any woman at the helm in coming years. Harvard and Radcliffe both seem to think Faust is more than suited for the task.

Harvey V. Fineberg '67

On the surface, President Neil L. Rudenstine might seem like the year's biggest newsmaker--his decision to step down next spring grabbed headlines last month.

But with the University's capital campaign--Rudenstine's legacy--complete at last, the president has become a lame duck. Inevitably, power and attention will devolve to those around him. And his nearest subordinate, Provost Harvey V. Fineberg '67, is trying to conceal his eagerness to take the reins.

Just as Vice President Al Gore '69 wants to take over from his boss, Fineberg has been touted as the logical candidate to succeed Rudenstine. Articulate and ambitious, the former dean of the School of Public Health has four Harvard degrees.

The projects he has worked on this year are solidly important to the University, if decidedly unsexy. Fineberg's office led the fight this year to curb trademark infringements on the storied Harvard name. He has presided over attempts to bring the massive, flailing computer system called Project ADAPT under control. He is the point man on interfaculty initiatives, a subject long dear to Rudenstine's heart.

Fineberg even played along at an October dinner celebrating the Harvard-Radcliffe merger. The provost and Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles donned huge, billowing ball gowns and pirouetted to a Gilbert and Sullivan tune.

But while Fineberg's name has cropped up on most prediction lists, he will face a stiff, competitive presidential search process. The search committee may decide to promote one of Harvard's deans--former president Derek C. Bok was dean of the law school--or find a candidate from another university like Rudenstine, a onetime Princeton provost.

But no matter what the selection committee decides, expect Fineberg to be making a change soon. The number-two position is a logical stepping-stone to higher office--if not at Harvard, then at another university. Fineberg may not have "provost" attached to his name for long.

Paul S. Grogan

Whenever Harvard administrators turn their minds to the world beyond the Yard, Paul S. Grogan is usually on hand to point the way.

The vice president for government, community and public affairs has taken an unusually active role this year. Grogan has coordinated Harvard's efforts on issues ranging from Allston land purchases to the city's call for a living wage.

Grogan's burst of energy reflects a newfound commitment in the University to improving relations with the cities of Cambridge and Boston, which bottomed out in 1997 after revelations that Harvard had secretly bought more than 50 acres of Boston land. A former employee of the Boston mayor's office, Grogan was hired last January to help repair the damage.

In September Grogan brokered a plan to pay the city of Boston $40 million in lieu of taxes. The deal ended a two-year stalemate that had stemmed from larger philosophical differences about the payments.

"The big breakthrough was the appointment of Paul Grogan," said Provost Harvey V. Fineberg '67 then. "He has personal experience and inclination. He knows City Hall."

In Cambridge, too, Grogan smoothed over nettlesome issues. He tried to explain away Harvard's seeming intransigence when city councillors called for a living wage. An initiative to provide $20 million in loans to create affordable housing in Cambridge and in Boston went a long way towards soothing hard feelings.

And when Harvard Pilgrim Health Care was threatened with financial ruin, Grogan offered the state attorney general a plan to keep the troubled HMO--and Harvard namesake--afloat.

Grogan regularly travels to Washington and New York to schmooze with reporters and enhance Harvard's reputation.

"It's about explaining ourselves and making our role visible," Grogan says.

Don't be surprised if Grogan is equally visible himself in the months to come.

Andre K. Stuckey

As a rule, crime doesn't pay--unless you're stealing from Harvard students who can never quite remember to lock their doors.

Andre K. Stuckey, the notorious "Yard Burglar," struck room after first-year room this fall and left fear in his wake. But even months into his wave of burglaries, many students still offered ready targets.

Stuckey's spree began in early October, when students in several Matthews Hall rooms awoke to find wallets and cash missing from their common rooms. The burglar's technique couldn't have been simpler--he entered rooms as students slept, ignoring more valuable booty like computers, cell phones and cameras.

First-years were upset by the security breach, a rude awakening only a month after they'd arrived at Harvard.

"I was sleeping right there when this happened," Gerby K. Marks '03 said at the time. "It creeps me out."

As the month dragged on, the burglar grew brazen. An encounter the following week with a member of the heavyweight crew team who wrestled him to the ground and whose roommate slammed him against the wall failed to deter the man, now dubbed "the Yard Burglar." A few days later, he began to enter students' rooms during the day.

After being spotted by a proctor in one Matthews room, the Yard Burglar turned back in and said, "See you later, guys," before sprinting down the hallway.

The hijinks couldn't last. On Oct. 22, three weeks into his crime spree, officers of the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) arrested Andre K. Stuckey for hundreds of dollars worth of burglaries.

When he was released from jail in early December, Stuckey immediately returned to the Yard for a final round of burglaries--the proceeds from which paid for his trip to California. Lucky security officers at UCLA managed to apprehend him before a similar crime wave could begin.

Stuckey returned to Massachusetts in February, for good. He was ordered to serve out a two-year prison sentence, having violated nearly every provision of his probation.

The Yard Burglar proved that hospitality isn't dead in Harvard dorms. First-years unwittingly made Stuckey feel at home--until HUPD found a more fitting one.