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A Look Back

Four years of the people, news and events that shaped Harvard

By Imtiyaz H. Delawala, Crimson Staff Writer


Harvard agrees to pay the City of Boston $40 million over 20 years in lieu of taxes, ending a two-year town-gown battle following the 1997 disclosure that the University had been secretly purchasing land in Allston.

Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 announces that the maximum size of blocking groups will be halved from the current cap of 16 to eight, starting with the Class of 2003. Lewis stands by his decision even after first-years present him with a petition signed by over half the class.

The Rev. Billy Graham, 80 years old and suffering from Parkinson’s disease, speaks to a standing room-only crowd at a Sunday morning service in Memorial Church.


The historic merger between Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges becomes final with the formation of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

In a dark wood-paneled, plushly carpeted room at the Harvard Club of New York, President Neil L. Rudenstine announces that the University’s capital campaign has raised $2.3 billion. Though the campaign is still short of its stated goals for the University’s library system and its endowed professorships, overall it is three months ahead of schedule and $225 million ahead of its goal.

The University signs an agreement with the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers to provide greater compensation for nominally part-time or “casual” employees who work full-time hours. Over 400 employees will be affected.

Harvard hosts an international education summit featuring meetings between seven presidents from China’s leading universities and five from American universities.


The Crimson reports that for the past two months, Edward Francis Meinhert Jr., an Extension School student, posed as a transfer student in the College’s Class of 2002. Meinert joined a variety of extracurriculars, never disclosing the fact that he was a former student at George Washington University and was facing a federal prison sentence for fraud.

B.J. Averell ’02 sneaks onto a Delta Express jet in a futile attempt to get home in time for Thanksgiving, after he learns the airline had given away his seat. Averell is arrested by Logan Airport security officials, and his story makes national headlines. All charges are eventually dropped but Averell remains a campus celebrity, hosting his own variety show in the spring.

After his Mather House room had been targeted repeatedly in acts of homophobic vandalism, K. Kyriell Muhammad announces he will resign as resident tutor at the end of the term.


Fentrice D. Driskell ’01 wins the Undergraduate Council’s presidency, along with running mate John A. Burton ’01. The election also slashes the council in size and defeats efforts to increase the $20 student termbill fee, proceeds of which go directly to the council.



The troubled history of the Harvard Institute for International Development comes to an end after a University task force recommends its dissolution.

The days of the Bow and Arrow Pub and the Mass. Ave. Dunkin’ Donuts are numbered, as they are forced out of their building, owned by the Harvard Coop. Both were featured in the 1998 film Good Will Hunting.

The Crimson reports that Burton stole campaign materials from the office of the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters’ Alliance. In an episode which draws national headlines, the council later rejects two articles of impeachment and votes not to remove Burton from office.


In a distinctly non-liberal-arts move, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences announces that it will begin assembling a program to give undergraduates the skills needed to become high-profile Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.


The Cambridge City Council passes an order supporting a “living wage” of $10 per hour for all Harvard employees and threatens that town-gown relations may become strained unless the University acts soon. In May 1999, the council had mandated that all city employees of firms contracted by the city must be paid a wage of at least $10 per hour.

FAS completes negotiations with the Institute of 1770 to take over ownership of the Hasty Pudding building. FAS will foot the bill for massive renovations to the dilapidated building—by some accounts, likely a $5 million undertaking.

About 30 members of the Progressive Student Labor Movement occupy Byerly Hall for six hours to attract the attention of visiting prospective first-years and promote their campaign for a living wage at Harvard. Members refuse to heed requests by the Harvard University Police Department that they leave the building.


After 15 months of forceful student pressure, Rudenstine announces that the University plans to extend health care and job training benefits to virtually all Harvard employees, but will stop short of enacting a living wage.

Academy Award winners and native Cantabrigians Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Class of 1992, speak at a living wage rally.

Rudenstine announces that he will leave the Harvard presidency at the end of June 2001. His resignation comes at the conclusion of a successful six-year capital campaign, the chief accomplishment of his tenure.


The search for Harvard’s 27th president officially kicks off, as the Harvard Corporation names the nine-member search committee. As in past presidential searches, the group does not include faculty or students, though members do consult the greater Harvard community through letters and meetings.

The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority approves the sale of 48 acres of Allston land to Harvard for $151 million in July, opening the way for future University development across the Charles River. Located south of the Harvard Business School campus, the property known as Allston Landing North had been coveted by the University for years.

Cambridge Riverside residents gains support for an 18-month development moratorium for their area, which includes the site occupied by Mahoney’s Garden Center on Memorial Drive that Harvard hopes to turn into a modern art museum.


A Yard vigil is held to protest two violent incidents against Harvard students, which are later classified as hate crimes. A 25-year-old homeless man is charged in one of the attacks.

Shrewd investing, the Internet economy and a strong commodities market combine to create a record $4.8 billion surge in Harvard’s coffers, bringing the endowment to more than $19 billion.


Vice President Al Gore ’69 and Texas Gov. George W. Bush debate at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Ralph Nader speaks at the Institute of Politics and protests his exclusion from the event at UMass.

The University releases an internal investigation of the worldwide college apparel manufacturing industry, finding conditions bleak for workers.


Members of the Class of 2003 vote in their first-ever presidential election, one that ends in an impasse. Thirty-six days later, after hearing more about aging Florida voters, chads and the intricacies of judicial voting processes than should ever be desired, Gore finally concedes the election to Bush, a graduate of the Harvard Business School.


Institute of Politics Director David H. Pryor dissolves the IOP’s 30-member student governing body without prior notice, saying the old leadership was too exclusive.

Shira Palmer-Sherman ’02 is hit by a car in the Square, dying later in the month from her injuries. Hundreds of mourners attend a memorial service for her two months later.



University Hall’s first major renovations since 1896 are completed. The building is now handicapped-accesible and its central Faculty Room is refurbished.


A survey conducted by The Crimson finds that 46 percent of Harvard students “binge drink”—one point higher than the national average—but the frequency of that drinking is much lower than on college campuses nationwide.

A handful of Living Wage Campaign members fight cold wintry rains and icy sidewalks in a series of unannounced visits to the homes of four top administrators. Student protesters deliver handmade Valentine’s Day cards to lobby for a $10.25 minimum wage for Harvard workers—a figure that the Cambridge City Council had adopted as the official Cambridge living wage.


Film star Jane Fonda gives $12.5 million to endow a Graduate School of Education center to study how gender affects children’s development and learning.

Lawrence H. Summers, at one time the youngest-tenured Harvard professor and former U.S. secretary of the treasury, is named the next Harvard president, effective in July. Summers’ first visit to Harvard is greeted by a loud PSLM protest. Throughout the next several months, Summers quietly meets with student groups and eats in Harvard dining halls. Summers’ selection, first reported by The Crimson, was helped by a protracted lobbying campaign by friends and colleagues.


The Massachusetts Beverages Control Commission suspends the Crimson Sports Grille’s liquor license for 18 days—three days for each count of serving minors.

Dissatisfied with the University’s progress on the living wage issue, about 50 members of PSLM occupy Mass Hall. The PSLM sit-in lasts 21 days and attracts worldwide support from labor leaders. It is the longest occupation in Harvard history. A Crimson poll finds that while most students appear to support paying all workers a “living wage,” many do not support PSLM’s tactics.


PSLM ends its 21-day occupation of Mass. Hall. The University agrees to revisit its contracts with unions, suspend expansion of outsourcing and establish a committee to recommend changes to the wage structure.

Harvard’s plan to redevelop the Arsenal complex in Watertown draws criticism. The city claims that the University’s tax-exempt status will cost it tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue. The University claims it will pay a “generous and appropriate fee” in lieu of taxes. Busloads of school children stage a miniature protest.

The “BJ Show,” a variety show organized by campus semi-celebs B.J. Averell ’02-’03 and B.J. Novak ’01, is hosted by national semi-celeb and former “Full House” star Bob Saget. The show features numerous genitalia jokes, the voice of Aladdin, the Disney cartoon character, and tomfoolery the likes of which haven’t been seen in these parts since the previous year’s “BJ Show.”

The American Repertory Theatre (ART) hires director Richard Woodruff to replace Robert Brustein as head of the theater company. The ART is known for its director-centric focus and its quirky, colorful adaptations of classic plays.


Summers officially assumes the presidency on Sunday, July 1.

Haley S. Surti ’01, who had just days before received her bachelors’ degree cum laude from the College, dies June 12 in a bus crash in Peru, where she was travelling as a researcher and writer for Let’s Go.

Robert L. Scalise was named Harvard’s seventh director of athletics on July 16. Scalise previously served as associate dean for administration and senior executive office at Harvard Business School (HBS).


The nation mourns after terrorists hijack two planes and fly them into New York’s Word Trade Center. Nearly 3,000 civilians lose their lives, and the U.S. begins a war against Taliban and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan, who are blamed for the attacks.

News that Harvard receives funds from the bin Laden family makes national news. Sheik Bakr Mohammed bin Laden, Osama bin Laden’s brother, made two gifts totaling $2 million to the University to fund fellowships for the study of Islamic culture. Harvard officials, responding to attacks, stress that the University will cease using funds if any explicit link to Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organization are found.

In a rally organized by the newly formed Harvard Initiative for Peace and Justice, about 500 students demonstrate outside of Widener Library for a peaceful response to the terrorist attacks.

Harvard announces the value of its endowment slipped in the last fiscal year for the first time in 17 years, from $19.2 billion to $18.3 billion. Harvard Management Company, the organization that invests the endowment, cites the economic downturn and decline of the stock market as causes for the drop.


House masters extend the hours of official parties in House dining halls by one hour, to 2 a.m., on Friday and Saturday nights, as long as alcohol is not served.

Summers is officially installed as Harvard’s 27th president at a grand academic ceremony in Tercentenary Theatre, before an audience of 5,000. In his inaugural speech, the capstone to two days of festivities, Summers emphasizes the importance of undergraduate education and the development of a Harvard campus in Allston.

Filling the vacancy left by the departure of Harvey V. Fineberg ’67, President Summers announces Steven E. Hyman as the University’s next provost. His appointment is seen by many as reinforcing Summers’ priority on science, as Hyman was the director of the National Institute of Mental Health.


A fire at the Eliot House grille forces the evacuation of hundreds of students from Eliot, Kirkland and Winthrop Houses. Though the fire causes significant smoke damage in the tunnels and closes the grille until February; there are no injuries.

Nathan M. Pusey ’28, Harvard’s 24th president, dies at the age of 94. Serving during the 1950s and 1960s, his administration led the University’s first major fundraising campaign and also focused on undergraduate education. His presidency ended in controversy as a result of the 1969 break up of the University Hall takeover.

Don C. Wiley, Loeb professor of biochemistry and biophysics, is declared missing after police find his abandoned rental car on the Interstate 40 bridge over the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tenn. Wiley was last seen on Nov. 15 at a dinner at the Peabody Hotel, where he was attending the annual meeting of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientific advisory board.

For the first time since 1913, the Harvard football team finishes its season with a perfect record, defeating Yale 35-23 in New Haven to win the Ivy League championship.

In a speech delivered before 6,000 at the Gordon indoor track and tennis facility, Former President Bill Clinton stresses the need for greater awareness of the dangers of nations’ interdependence in the modern world.


A year after being shut out of the Rhodes Scholarship competition for the first time since 1930, Harvard nabs five of the 32 spots awarded this year—the most of any college—bringing the total number of Harvard Rhodes Scholars to 300.

Sujean S. Lee ’03 is elected president of the Undergraduate Council. Lee’s victory, along with running mate Anne M. Fernandez ’03, marks the first time an all-female ticket has won a popular presidential election.

Five weeks after he vanished, police find Wiley’s body floating in the Mississippi River, 320 miles downstream from Memphis. His death is later ruled an accident, quelling previous speculation about suicide.



Summers meets with Fletcher University Professor Cornel West ’74 in an attempt to keep the prominent Afro-American studies professor from leaving Harvard and returning to Princeton. West’s allegation that Summers questioned his scholarship at an October meeting makes national news.

Suzanne M. Pomey, who served as producer of the 2001 Hasty Pudding show, and Randy J. Gomes, who assistant-directed the Man and Woman of the Year shows, are charged with grand larceny after allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the group the previous spring. Gomes and Pomey, both of the Class of 2002, later plead not guilty to charges of larceny.

The Enron controversy spreads to Harvard as Corporation member Herbert S. “Pug” Winokur ’64-’65 receives a subpoena from the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for his connection with Enron’s collapse. He was then the chair of Enron’s finance committee.

Universal keycard access is extended to 2:30 a.m. on a trial basis for the spring term after a decisive House Master vote.

Carswell Professor of Philosophy K. Anthony Appiah, a leading member of the Afro-American studies department, turns in his resignation to University officials and announces he will leave Harvard for Princeton next fall, raising concerns that other stars of the department will follow his lead. Appiah cites personal reasons for his departure.


After an 11-year tenure as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Jeremy R. Knowles announces that he will leave Harvard at the end of the academic year.

Associate Professor of Linguistics Bert Vaux e-mails “two or three dozen” students alleging that he is being illegitimately shut out of the tenure process due to lack of respect within FAS and the linguistics department for his field of specialty.

In a choreographed protest that blocks traffic and is intended to show support for increased wages for University workers, nine supporters of higher wages for janitors are arrested.

A contract settlement—ensuring that all janitors will receive at least $11.35 an hour and raise wages steadily over the next three years—is reached. Both sides claim success with the agreement, which brings to a close six weeks of heated negotiations.


After meeting with Summers during his office hours to discuss the future of Latino studies, two Latino student group leaders allege that Summers is unwilling to address their concerns.

The number of required Core classes is lowered by one after a unanimous Faculty vote. Students now have the freedom to take more electives, including freshman seminars.

Undergraduate Council President Sujean S. Lee ’03 says the allegation that Summers is opposed to hip-hop artists headlining Springfest is unfounded. Rather, Lee says Springfest planners want music suitable for all ages since the event is now for the entire University community, as it is co-sponsored for the first time with the Office of the President.


Black and Latino student groups from throughout the University gather more than 400 signatures in an attempt to convince West to remain at Harvard. West considers a Princeton offer to join its faculty.

Winokur announces he will resign from the Harvard Corporation at the end of June because he feels the Enron scandal is diverting attention from Summers’ agenda for Harvard and from the work of the Corporation and the University.

Former Secretary of the Treasury Robert E. Rubin ’60 is named the newest member of the Harvard Corporation, replacing Robert G. Stone Jr. ’45.

West announces he will leave Harvard for Princeton at the end of the academic year. West’s decision to leave ends months of speculation about his future at Harvard, after his highly publicized disagreement with Summers.

Cabot, Currier, Dunster, Kirkland and Lowell Houses all announce the appointment of new Allston Burr senior tutors.


Thirty-nine Harvard professors join a Harvard-MIT petition that calls for the University to divest from investment in Israel until it ends its occupation of Palestinian territories and stops human rights abuses.

Geisinger Professor of History William C. Kirby is appointed the next dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. He replaces the outgoing Knowles.

Renowned evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould dies of cancer at his home in New York at age 60, a few days before a final exam for one of his classes.

Following a yearlong controversy about grade inflation, professors unanimously adopt a new 4.0 grading scale and restrict the proportion of honors awarded each year to 60 percent. The Class of 2005 will be the first to feel the effects of these changes.

Commencement speaker Zayed M. Yasin ’02 is embroiled in controversy after The Crimson reports he would speak about the concept of “jihad,” as applied to graduating seniors’ lives. A week later, Yasin agrees to drop the word jihad from the speech’s title, although it remains in the subtitle, and agrees to add a sentence condemning violence in the name of jihad, which includes a denunciation of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


The Council of Ivy Group Presidents votes to decrease the number of football recruits per class at Ivy institutions, beginning with the Class of 2007. In addition, all Ivy League sports teams must set aside seven weeks during the academic year during which neither required athletic activities nor coach-supervised voluntary activities occur.

The U.S. Department of Education began an investigation in August into the College’s new sexual assault discipline procedure, acting on a student’s complaint that the policy violates the Title IX gender discrimination statute.

The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid decided in August to assume full control over prospective student tours, displacing the Crimson Key Society as the exclusive admissions tour provider.


Over 10,000 people gather at noon in Tercentenary Theatre to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. President Lawrence H. Summers and religious leaders from several denominations speak at the event.

Gomes and Pomey, the two students accused of embezzling over $100,000 from the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, plead guilty to charges. The two students are later sentenced to five years of probation and dismissed from the College.

In a speech at Morning Prayers at Memorial Church, President Summers asserts that anti-Semitism lurks locally. He denounces the campaign advocating the University’s divestment from Israel, saying that such actions are “anti-Semitic in their effect if not in their intent.”

In the wake of a 30-acre purchase of land known as the Arsenal, Harvard agrees to pay Watertown $3.8 million annually for the next 52 years.

Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby announces plans to department chairs and Faculty Council members this month for students to preregister for classes a semester in advance.

For a second year in a row, Harvard’s endowment loses value, falling $800 million during Fiscal Year 2002. The endowment reportedly stands at $17.5 billion.


Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby officially kicks off the first curricular review in 25 years in a letter to the Faculty.

The University announces that kegs will be prohibited at all sporting events, citing concerns about alcohol abuse at the 2000 Harvard-Yale game. This ban is an extension of a restriction on kegs at the Harvard-Yale football game instated in 2000.

Because of an error with a new payroll system, known as PeopleSoft, dozens of student workers do not receive checks for their first several weeks of work. They are eventually paid later in the semester.

Republican W. Mitt Romney, a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School (HBS), defeats Democratic opponent Shannon P. O’Brien to win the Massachusetts gubernatorial election.

The English department cancels a poetry reading by poet Tom Paulin after over a 100 students and faculty members expressed concerns over Paulin’s anti-Israeli views, but he is reinvited one week later. Chair of the Department of English Lawrence Buell said at the time that there was “widespread concern and regret for the fact that the decision not to hold the event could easily be seen . . . as an unjustified breach of the principle of free speech within the academy.”

The Cambridge School Committee decides not to renew Superintendent of Schools Bobbie J. D’Alessandro’s contract after five years of service, saying that she had failed to present a clear vision for narrowing achievement gaps and formulating an acceptable school merger plan.

Dean of Harvard Law School Robert C. Clark announces that he will step aside at the end of the academic year after over 13 years at the helm. Clark was lauded for his ability to bring stability to an ideologically divided faculty, as well as his fundraising acumen.


Ending months of speculation that he might leave Harvard, Chair of Afro-American Studies Department Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr., announces that he will remain at Harvard. It was thought that he might leave after two fellow members of his department, former Carswell Professor of Philosophy K. Anthony Appiah and former Fletcher University Professor Cornel R. West ’74, departed for Princeton.

Winthrop House resident Marian H. Smith ’04 dies in an apparent suicide.

Rohit Chopra ’04 and Jessica R. Stannard-Friel ’04 are elected president and vice president of the Council, respectively, by a wide margin in the largest election turnout ever.



The Faculty of Arts and Sciences announces that it has no intention of bringing its nondiscrimination policy into compliance with series of post-Sept. 11 legislation known as the USA PATRIOT Act, which restricts certain foreign-born academics from performing research on classified biological and chemical agents.

Summers announces a $14 million increase in graduate student financial aid to students seeking public service careers that traditionally do not pay well.

Harvard officially gives up plans to build a tunnel under Cambridge Street to connect the new Center for Government and International Studies. After months of negotiating, Harvard failed to overcome strong neighborhood opposition to the project.

The Graduate School of Education (GSE) announces that it will give back a $12.5 million gift pledged by Jane Fonda to fund a gender studies center. The GSE cited increasing financial difficulty and a more restrictive University policy on centers as reasons for the refund.


The Black Students Association removes the list “Top 10 Signs Harvard Has Driven a Black Woman Crazy” from its new The Black Guide to Life at Harvard. Some members decried the list as being offensive to women.

Over 1,250 students sign a petition arguing against the proposed preregistration plan. The signed petitions are then given to Kirby and the Faculty.

Members of the men’s crew team erect a nine-foot tall snow penis in Tercentenary Theatre. Two women destroy the icy phallus shortly after its erection, prompting a heated debate over the right to free speech.

Harvard files a friend of the court brief in the University of Michigan affirmative action cases, which will be decided by the Supreme Court at the end of June. The University, along with several other major universities who signed the brief, argues that having a diverse student body is a vital element of higher education.

The College remains open despite the over two feet of snow delivered by the largest blizzard to hit the Northeast in seven years.


Nearly 200 students sign a petition urging the creation of an alternative class to Social Analysis 10, or “Ec-10,” the introduction to economics course taught by Baker Professor of Economics Martin S. Feldstein. Students assert that Ec 10, which is required of all economic concentrators, has a conservative bias. The students support the effort of Barker Professor of Economics Stephen A. Marglin to create an alternative introductory economics class.

Kirby’s proposed preregistration plan meets unexpected criticism at a Faculty meeting. Several professors voice concerns that the plan would ruin the great educational benefit of shopping period. Kirby withdraws his pregregistration proposal two days later.

Kirby ousts Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68. Lewis’ removal is part of a merger of the positions of dean of the College and dean of undergraduate education.

The United States attacks Baghdad, marking the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. According a poll by The Crimson, a majority of students oppose the war.

Without consulting leading administrators, Kirby offers the newly created Dean of the College to current Dean of the Undergraduate Education Benedict H. Gross ’71.

Harvard bids $75 million for 91 acres of land in Allston owned by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority. The land is currently covered by railway tracks, and the turnpike bisects the parcel. The land would increase Harvard’s Allston holdings by about a third.


The government’s Office for Civil Rights declares that Harvard’s sexual assault policies do not violate the rights of victims. The announcement, however, came after the University modified the wording of its policies.

Elena Kagan is appointed the next dean of Harvard Law School. She will become the first woman to occupy the post.

The University issues an advisory warning against travel to areas affected by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Harvard later bans travel to areas affected by SARS including several east Asian nations and Toronto, Canada.

Graduate student of Slavic studies Alexander Pring-Wilson is arrested for allegedly stabbing and killing 18-year-old Michael Colono of Cambridge in an early morning fight outside Pizza Ring.


In a reversal of a lower court’s ruling, Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Geraldine Hines grants Alexander Pring-Wilson sets bail at $400,000. He is released from jail and put on house arrest pending his trial.

The Core Office approves Marglin new introductory economic class for core Social Analysis credit. The class, however, will not take the place of Ec-10 for economics concentrators.

The Faculty’s Standing Committee on the Core Program approves a reduction in core requirements for students studying abroad, as part of an effort to encourage students to pursue educational opportunities abroad.

The Faculty approves the sexual assault policy proposed by the Leaning Committee. The new guidelines create a new office for sexual assault prevention and call for the use of a fact finder in Administrative Board hearings of sexual assault.

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