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TALK BOK TO ME
Just as undergraduates packed their bags and left for the summer, President Derek C. Bok announced that he will step down from Harvard's presidency at the end of this academic year. As the summer began, Harvard administrators, faculty, and bureaucrats of all sorts began the process of selecting the person who will hold what is arguably the most influential position in American education.
The Corporation, Harvard's premiere governing body, quickly named a search committee charged with producing a list of candidates qualified to be the University's next president. The Corporation named six of its seven members--Bok excluded--to the committee, along with three members of the Board of Overseers. The search committee/Corporation will recommend a short list to the Corporation proper, which will then choose the next president, who will, by the way, then serve on the Corporation.
Although Bok stressed that Harvard needed a new president to mastermind an upcoming $2.5 billion fund drive, his resignation dashed hopes for its speedy start. University officials said the Bok resignation would likely delay the beginning of the drive for up to a year.
Bok's resignation will mean more than a new occupant of a certain prestigious Mass Hall office--it will also mean a reorganization of Harvard's administrative governance. Traditionally, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences has been considered the second most influential administrator at Harvard.
But under a new plan, the president could appoint a Provost, who would take up many of the dean's academic duties. The Dean of FAS will then be able to focus on fundraising--something former Dean A. Michael Spence found was consuming disproportionate amounts of time.
As soon as Bok announced his resignation, self-annointed Harvard pundits were immediately predicting the ascension of Henry Rosovsky, who is former Dean of the Faculty and member of both the Corporation and the Corporation/search committee. But Roso fans were shocked and disappointed when King Henry said he would not accept the presidency in a Shermanesque announcement.
Alarmed by the prospect of a studentless search, outgoing Undergraduate Council chair Guhan Subramanian '92 out in his two cents, sending a letter to Corporation member/search committee chair Charles P. Slichter '46 urging him to solicit student opinion in selecting a new president. University officials said that Slichter was indeed planning to seek student input, but that it would not be as important as Subramanian hoped it would.
EC 10 FOR ECUADOR
In a complicated deal that confused nearly everybody, Harvard agreed this summer to trade "debt for scholarship" with the Ecuadoran government. Harvard will apparently purchase Latin American country's $5 million national debt and convert it into a $2.5 million scholarship fund for Ecuadoran students studying at Harvard. Somehow, the University ends up reaping a $1.7 million dollar windfall from the deal, thus advancing its efforts to "internationalize" in the process.
BE CAREFUL OUT THERE
A man approached two students enrolled in the summer school's secondary school program and engaged them in a conversation, suggesting that he could help them gain admission to Harvard College. He later asked them to dinner and, according to a flier distributed to students, "served them large quantities of alcohol, brought them back to his apartment and engaged them in sex against their will."
Police say they will arraign a suspect on Sept. 13, but he is still at large.
This year, two house masters will be taking leaves of absence. Through some uncanny coincidence, both are being replaced by zoology experts. Adams House Master Robert Kiely will be replaced for the year by Eva S. Jones, head librarian at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ). And while James A. Davis is away, Robert M. Woollacott, curator of marine invertebrates at the MCZ will be running the show at Winthrop House.
Both acting masters denied that it was their zoological experience that qualified them to manage a Harvard house.
A TALE OF TWO JESSES
Vice President and General Counsel Daniel Steiner said that the University was undecided about whether it would sign an "anti-obscenity" pledge to receive funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. An amendment, proposed by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and passed by Congress last year, requires all beneficiaries of NEA grants to sign a statement affirming that they will not use the money for art that is deemed obscene.
Steiner said the University has not yet signed the pledge, but he said that Harvard--which receives $200,000 annually from the NEA--would not rule that possibility out. Similarly, officials at the American Repertory Theatre said that the theatre will not decide whether to accept or reject about $18,000 worth of funds until "the very last minute."
Meanwhile, former presidential candidate and frequent Harvard visitor the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson was in Cambridge last month, making a token effort at relieving tensions in the Persian Gulf crisis. He met with Prince Turki Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family, at the Prince's posh suite at the Charles Hotel. Details of the meeting were sketchy but it does not appear that the conference has helped solve the international crisis.
RAIDERS OF THE LOST CALF
The academic community was abuzz this summer with talk of an astonishing find by a Harvard archaeologist. Lawrence E. Stager '65, Dorot Professor of the Archaeology of Israel, unearthed an ancient Canaanite "golden calf" in Israel, the only idol of its kind ever found. Scientists hailed the calf--which may date back to 1500 B.C.--as a vital piece of evidence about the development of ancient religions.
SHAPE UP OR SHIP OUT
Reserve Officers Training Corps' policy of discriminating against gays and lesbians drew fire from two very different critics this summer. The American Civil Liberties Union announced plans to host a national conference this fall in Minneapolis discussing ways of fighting discrimination in the military.
Meanwhile, President Bok and former Dean of the Faculty A. Michael Spence sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney requesting that the military reconsider its discriminatory policies. The letter came in response to a Faculty Council resolution last spring making similar demands, threatening to stop accepting ROTC scholarships if the controversial policy is not reversed.
Barbara Johnson, professor of romance and comparative literature, was named to chair Harvard's beleagured Afro-American Studies Department this year. Johnson will thus join former chair Werner Sollors as the Department's only permanent faculty members. Johnson is a literary scholar, who has not been previously affiliated with the Afro-Am Department, but has taught classes on Afro-American literature.
Three Black administrators who were dismissed from their jobs at Harvard graduate schools reportedly filed complaints against the University this summer, charging that they were the victims of discrimination.
Included among the officials is Lawrence Watson, a former assistant dean at the Graduate School of Design, who was laid off in June in the wake of large budget cuts. Watson has been one of the University's most vocal advocates of affirmative action.
Weld Professor of Law Derrick A. Bell--who is currently taking an unpaid leave of absence to protest lack of faculty diversity--said that the abrupt and uncourteous manner in which Watson was dismissed may have revealed an attempt to punish Watson for his controversial views.
HARVARD AND AIDS
Two Harvard professors made national news when they reported that they had synthesized a molecule that in laboratory tests had prevented AIDS from spreading. Professor of Chemistry Stuart L. Schreiber, Professor of Pediatrics Steven J. Burakoff and Associate Professor of Medicine Robert W. Finberg say it is too soon to know the drug's potential, and warn that any testing for humans is at least a year away. Nevertheless, Burakoff said the drug "holds out the hope that it might prevent the spread of AIDS."
Meanwhile, the Harvard administration itself was taking steps to prevent discrimination against those infected with the HIV virus. In June, the Harvard professor who is slated to chair the Eighth International Conference on AIDS here in 1992 said that it will not be held here unless the federal government changes a policy which bars foreigners who have tested positive for the AIDS virus from entering this country without a special waiver.
University officials said that the letter is part of a broader effort by faculty and administrators to lobby Congress and the Bush Administration in an effort to change U.S. immigration policy.
Lifting the travel restrictions would require a vote of Congress, which in 1987 added the AIDS virus to a list of "excludable diseases," according to Richard Kenney, a spokesperson for the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
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