Fraud and crime dominate a year that also saw historic reform

Polina Bartik

On the first day of 2011, The Crimson's news staff looks back at the year that was.

During a year that saw Professor Marc D. Hauser and Adam B. Wheeler fall from grace, fraud dominated the headlines in 2010. But the year also saw an alarming uptick in crime, including an armed robbery inside the Yard. The year was also one of reform as the Corporation announced a set of historic changes to its structure. And following the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the Reserve Officer Training Corps is now positioned to potentially return to Harvard after its decades-long absence.

In ascending order, 2010's top stories follow.


With Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court and subsequent confirmation process, her record as dean of Harvard Law School came under close scrutiny. Kagan’s supporters cited her time at the Law School as evidence that she would be a voice of unity on the court. As dean, Kagan brought to an end the rancorous ideological disputes that had earned the school the nickname “Beirut on the Charles.” But her critics seized on her decision to limit access for military recruiters as evidence that she would bring an anti-military perspective to the court.


Kagan served as dean of the Law School from 2003 to 2009, and her tenure established her as one of the most popular deans in recent memory. But in attempting to reinvigorate the school, she did not hesitate to knock some heads together and deployed a management style that some characterized as brusque.

But Kagan effectively dodged and parried Republican attacks and was confirmed in August by a 63-37 vote in the Senate. Kagan replaced Justice John Paul Stevens on the bench, and her confirmation brought the number of women on the court to three, the most to serve on the court at one time.


While construction on the University’s massive planned expansion in Allston continued to lay dormant, Harvard officials sought to lease some University owned property as it seeks to make plans for how to proceed with its development efforts. Still, Allston residents voiced angry complaints over a planning process that say has not been sufficiently transparent and has failed to address concerns raised by residents.

Before construction abruptly halted in Dec. 2009, contractors had poured the foundation for the cornerstone of the development, the $1 billion Science Complex. But that complex has since been paved over while the community awaits word from University administrators for how they plan to fund and develop the property. Officials have raised the possibility of co-development, or partnering with non-profits or businesses, in order to ease the financial pressure of continuing to fund the development solely on the University’s dime. The University has convened a work team that will deliver recommendations by mid-2011, though it is unclear how specific those plans will be.

In the meantime, the University has focused on smaller projects, including leasing out property. In April, renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma '76 announced that he would relocate the headquarters of the Silk Road Project, his non-profit arts and educational organization, to a Harvard building in Allston. Earlier in the year, Earthwatch, a non-profit environmental organization, also announced that it would move its headquarters to Allston.

But the University’s efforts in Allston have also been fraught with tension—including a dispute over the relocation of an Allston McDonald’s. University officials often cite grants to community groups, the opening of batting cages, and the Allston Education Portal as ways that the University has sought to mitigate the pause in construction. But those efforts often seem to fall on deaf ears with residents who remain incensed that the redevelopment project they had been promised is now little more than a dormant construction site.


As fall reading period came to a close, so did a period of reflection for the Harvard Corporation. With criticism of its insular nature mounting, the University’s highest governing body on December 6 announced it would nearly double its membership, institute term limits, and create several committees—changes unprecedented in the Corporation’s more than 300-year history. The oldest corporation in North America, chartered in 1650, the Corporation had maintained the same structure—comprised of the University president and six fellows—since its founding.

In the wake of 2009’s precipitous drop in the value of Harvard’s endowment, the Corporation garnered heavy and strident criticism. In a Boston Globe op-ed, two prominent professors blamed the Corporation for financial mismanagement that led to the University’s fiscal crisis. They and others cited the board’s secretive nature—it chooses its own membership and does not release minutes from its meetings—for making its members out of touch with the University. Such scrutiny of the governing body was not new, having been voiced by many amidst the turmoil surrounding the ouster of former University president Lawrence H. Summers.