A beacon of community

first_imgStanding next to Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Charlesview Apartments at Brighton Mills in Allston Friday, Angela Holm drew on her childhood memories of the community.“I grew up in Charlesview, and it was my entire world,” said Holm, now a neighborhood coordinator in the mayor’s office. “I went to church every Sunday at Hill Memorial Baptist Church, took swimming lessons at the West End House, went to summer camp at Harvard Stadium and Girl Scout meetings at St. Anthony’s, and watched my friends play little league at Smith Park.”Holm said that sense of belonging and community in the old Charlesview Apartments was “the essence” of what brought elected officials, Harvard leadership, community leaders, and Charlesview representatives and residents together for the ceremony.“The new Charlesview Residences will serve as an anchor for this community, with the diversity of residents and strong ties,” she said. “I’m overjoyed to be here to celebrate this new beacon for Allston and Brighton.”The project’s first phase brings 240 affordable-housing apartments, a community center, 14,000 square feet of retail space, a half-acre park, and an expansive underground parking garage to the Allston-Brighton community.   The community center will open by late July, offering workforce development and other programs for Charlesview residents and neighbors. Phase two will include 20 affordable home-ownership units.“Because the community came together, everyone has reached their goal of new housing, and it was desperately needed,” Menino said. “Harvard was a very important part of this, and we need to keep working together — that’s why we’re so successful.”Recognizing the leaders of the Charlesview Inc. board for their “courage, hard work, and determination” in the project, the Rev. Frank Glynn, the board chairman and pastor of St. Anthony’s Church, called them to the stage to be acknowledged. “The people standing here with me are outstanding to their commitment to the vision of Charlesview,” he said. “It is because of them that the dream of Charlesview has reached the heights of today.”Christine Heenan, vice president for Harvard Public Affairs & Communications, also emphasized the power of leadership and partnership. “This project was made possible in part by perseverance, but also by faith in what is possible when you stick with it and work together,” she said. “This project was also strengthened by the critical input of residents and the mayor’s office, who challenged us to do more, and do it even better.”Discussion of the new complex began nearly a decade ago, when representatives of Charlesview Inc. approached Harvard about a possible land exchange to replace the aging 1970s-era, 213-unit, low- and moderate-incoming housing development in Barry’s Corner.Working closely with residents, addressing concerns, incorporating their ideas into the project, and piecing together necessary funding involved multiple partners, including the mayor’s office, Charlesview Inc., the Community Builders Inc. (TCB), the Department of Housing and Urban Development, MassHousing, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, and Harvard.The completion of the project, Capuano said, was “not just good for the handful of people who will live here,” but good “for all of Brighton, all of Allston, all of Boston, all of Massachusetts, and all of the country.”Thomas Gleason, executive director of MassHousing, noted that this was the largest project in the nonprofit organization’s nearly 50-year history.“It’s not just about the 240 apartments here, or the land swap with Harvard … it’s the transformation of this entire area. And not many teams could have pulled that off,” he said, adding that the project had come in under budget and before the two-year deadline established for the project. “This is what happens when people think outside of the box.”Bart Mitchell, president and CEO of TCB, which is the country’s largest nonprofit developer and owner of urban, mixed-income housing, emphasized that the spirit of places like Charlesview were part of what set Boston apart.“We work throughout the Northeast, the Midwest, and the mid-Atlantic, so I get to spend a lot of time in American cities, and here’s what all of them have in common: They wish they had the strength of Boston’s neighborhoods,” Mitchell said.Such places, Mitchell said, share “the conviction that strong neighborhoods are places of opportunity for people of all incomes, not just those that have the most … Allston is a great neighborhood, and Charlesview is a stake in the ground that it will remain such, for people of all incomes, throughout this century.”last_img read more

The triumph of Twitter

first_imgPolitics does indeed make strange bedfellows. With Twitter having transformed the way the news media cover presidential elections, politicians and journalists are now agreeing on one thing: That is a huge problem.“Twitter is the central news source for the Washington-based political news establishment,” said Peter Hamby, a Washington, D.C.-based political reporter for CNN.But the “shallow nature of today’s political journalism,” fed in large part by Twitter, has led to “a journalistic reward structure in Washington that often prizes speed and scoops over context,” Hamby said in a research paper written while he was a fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy last spring.Hamby studied Twitter’s role in reshaping how the media covered the 2012 presidential campaign, and how wary political strategists reacted by fencing candidates off from most reporters, particularly those in the once-prestigious traveling press corps.“Any perceived gaffe or stumble can become a full-blown narrative in a matter of hours, if not minutes, thanks to the velocity of the Twitter conversation that now informs national reporters, editors, and television producers,” Hamby said in a phone interview.Although only a tiny fraction of voters are on Twitter, most of the news stories written about candidates incubate in conversations that begin as tweets. “Its ability to shape conventional wisdom this cycle was remarkable,” said Hamby. “It was the first thing we all looked at as reporters every morning and before bed. It’s the first thing the Obama and Romney campaigns did, where they went to spar and engage.”For his research paper “Did Twitter Kill the Boys on the Bus?” published this month, Hamby interviewed more than 70 top journalists and political operatives in Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, as well as others who worked on prior elections for both political parties.The paper’s title refers to Timothy Crouse’s groundbreaking 1973 book, “The Boys on the Bus,” about life on the campaign road with the randy band of now-famous journalists, including Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Germond, and R.W. “Johnny” Apple, who covered the 1972 presidential campaign of Richard Nixon and George McGovern.Hamby said his desire to study Twitter’s role in manipulating coverage of Washington politics was prompted by own experiences on the campaign trail, where he said the pace and the kinds of news stories being told in the Twitter era differed radically from the 2008 election cycle.“It just felt so frenzied and small at times, and I wanted to take a break and reflect on how we covered the 2012 campaign — talk to the people I got to know during the campaign, both inside the Obama and Romney camps, but also my fellow reporters and just talk to them about how it all felt. What can we do better?”Hamby’s research focused on the cadre of mostly young reporters who lived in what he called “the bubble.” Armed with digital video cameras, iPhones, and notepads, the group daily followed Romney’s every move as his political road show crisscrossed the country.Hamby said most “bubble” reporters, who are often in their early 20s with little professional experience reporting or working on a presidential campaign, made up for their lack of political savvy and sources by tweeting feverishly about the more trivial and petty aspects of the Romney campaign, such as what the candidate and his wife, Ann, ordered at a takeout burger joint, or the hassles of traveling.Hamby said that the Romney campaign’s open disdain for his tweeting press corps was borne largely from the belief that what they wanted was not substance, but a gaffe or meme-worthy moment to blast out to followers.“You have two guys on a stage, and one guy says, ‘I have a solution to the Middle East problem,’ and the other guy falls into the orchestra pit, who do you think is going to be on the evening news?” Fox News president Roger Ailes famously said in 1988, when he was a political operative.It was a lesson the Romney campaign took to heart.“Twitter has changed the back of the bus,” Matt Rhoades, Romney’s former campaign manager, told Hamby. “This environment is just not as conducive for us to go back there. It’s just people on Twitter waiting for Mitt to fall in the orchestra pit.”Hamby said the Romney camp’s strategy of giving access only to news outlets it perceived as friendly and to a small number of big-name national reporters backfired.“I think they just made a calculated bet that, ‘We just can’t trust these people, they’re too young, they don’t have the experience.’ And they were just going to sit back and wait for Dan Balz [of The Washington Post] and Adam Nagourney [of The New York Times] to show up on the airplane, and that just never happened,” said Hamby.Many in the Twitter brigade were expected to serve as instant authorities on “all things Romney” for their news organizations and were pressured to unearth fresh nuggets of coverage in 140 characters or less dozens of times a day, even when little happened that was newsworthy.“I think Twitter creates an impulse — because everyone is on it — that we have to be in the conversation too,” said Hamby. “It preys on the insecurity of reporters and editors. If someone has something, they have to go get it too.”With a tiny club of journalism tastemakers talking about the same things to one another, the buzz from the Twitter echo chamber frequently started political brush fires that campaign operatives on both sides had to stamp out.“If two kids with an abacus in Keokuk, Iowa, put out a release that said, ‘We just did a poll,’ and that went out on Twitter, there would be a lot of discussion in Washington and Twitter about ‘the Keokuk poll,’” David Axelrod, a senior adviser and strategist for President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, told Hamby.Hamby, himself a veteran of the bubble in 2008 and the Romney campaign in 2012, said he didn’t anticipate the reaction he got from many of his fellow political reporters once the campaign ended. Some say they’re reconsidering how they will use Twitter in the next election.“I’m not going to surprise anyone or offend anyone by saying that journalists are kind of a self-important bunch. They don’t admit mistakes very often,” said Hamby. “But I was kind of surprised how many of the reporters who covered the Romney campaign regretted some of the things they wrote about, tweeted about — how they wished they’d done things a little differently.“I regret how I’ve used Twitter,” he said. “I think everyone who’s a reporter has sent tweets they wished they hadn’t sent.”With the proliferation of Twitter and Instagram and live streaming, the traveling press corps’ once-indispensable function — to document what a candidate said and did each day on the trail and to provide voters with a sense of the scene at events — may be coming to an end, in part because of the faltering economics of the news business, Hamby said.“I think that stuff is important if you can afford it. But there’s an opportunity cost if you can’t afford it,” he said. “For example, The Boston Globe, which I think is really smart, just weighed the value of being in the bubble and put its reporters elsewhere. They only have five or six [Washington] reporters and not a big budget, and just decided, ‘Let someone else cover this stuff.’”Now back in Washington, D.C., Hamby said his experience at the Shorenstein Center was challenging and intimidating, but also rewarding.“I think, in Washington, you can get away with [faking] your way through conversations and people just agreeing with you,” said Hamby. “People at Harvard are as smart as advertised, and it was intimidating. But it really forced me to back up my arguments with reason and evidence. And that paid a lot of dividends, and I’m really grateful that I got the chance to be there.”last_img read more

Motivated by impact

first_imgThis year, more than 700 alumni volunteers will ask their peers to give to Harvard in celebration of a reunion or as an annual gift. Though generations and personal motivations vary, many donors share the same deep gratitude for their College experience and a desire to help advance Harvard as a place of discovery.While not always in the headlines, their gifts have helped move the Campaign for Arts and Sciences well beyond the halfway mark of its $2.5 billion goal, in the first year of the public phase. These collective contributions are seen in the steady progress to raise $250 million for the Dean’s Leadership Fund — flexible resources that have an immediate impact on curriculum development, financial aid, advising, athletics, arts, and House life.“It’s about giving back, saying thank you, and focusing on the next generation of students who will be coming to Harvard,” says Tom Brome ’64, a father of three (two of whom are also Harvard alumni), who serves as reunion co-chair for the 1964 Gift Committee and co-chair of the 50th Reunion Program Committee.In peer-to-peer outreach, he finds it’s never a hard sell to ask classmates to give to Harvard. “We are supporting a world-class institution,” says Brome. “At our age, in our early 70s, we look back on what was most meaningful, and we want to partner in whatever way we can with Harvard.”Approximately 30,000 alumni give to the Harvard College Fund every year, in large part to reconnect with the community they once knew as students and have since known as alumni.Valerie Peltier ’89 has been volunteering for her class since her days on the Senior Gift Committee. She and her husband, Jeff Peltier ’88, are passionate about their support.She gives to ensure that Harvard continues to be the “unbelievable institution that it is.” For Peltier, a key reason why Harvard is great is because of its financial aid initiative. “I want to support Harvard’s mission to bring the best mix of students, regardless of financial circumstances,” she said.As reunion chair for the 1989 Gift Committee, Peltier sees how many of her classmates are motivated by impact. “People really like to know that their gifts support students today and go right into the College,” she said.The class is on track to reaching its 25th reunion goal. Participation is key, said Peltier. “We are excited about big gifts to Harvard,” she said, “but we also want people to know that every gift is important. Participation in the community is really vital and produces significant dollars at all levels.”Emily Lamont ’09, a reunion co-chair for the 2009 Gift Committee, also sees how the idea of community motivates her peers. “The further we get from graduation, the more we can see how amazing Harvard is and how much we gained from it,” said Lamont. “To give back is an indicator that we all care and that we’re all in it together.”Lamont gives because of Harvard’s ability to advance change. “I love that Harvard changed its financial aid policy and set a new standard. It has such an important ripple effect,” she said. She is excited that the Class of 2009 also has launched a mental health fund to bolster programs that give undergraduates guidance and support.For all three, their roles as volunteers and donors give them a chance to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones, whether at regional events or at the reunion itself. “It’s incredibly fun,” said Lamont. “There is something magical about this place.”last_img read more

A sustainable 363rd Commencement

first_imgDuring Harvard’s 363rd Commencement, the University continued in its efforts toward a more sustainable campus. These figures were provided from sources across campus, including Robert Gogan, the associate manager of recycling services, Crista Martin, director of marketing and communications for dining services, and Colin Durrant, manager of sustainability communications.Click image for a larger view.last_img

Evaluating antenatal and postnatal care around the globe

first_imgAntenatal (ANC) and postnatal (PNC) care for women—crucial for ensuring healthy pregnancies, safe deliveries, and healthy mothers and babies—is the focus of several new studies involving researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.The four studies, published in the March 2016 issue of the British Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (BJOG), examined topics such as successes and challenges of several ANC and PNC care delivery models in different settings around the world and how to integrate such care with overall maternal and child health services.Both the BJOG “Editor’s Choice” column and a BJOG commentary highlighted the papers.The studies resulted from work completed by Harvard Chan School’s Women and Health Initiative (WHI) under a project titled “Adding Content to Contact.” Several Harvard Chan researchers were study authors—including WHI coordinator Ana Langer and Rifat Atun, professor of global health systems—as well as colleagues from the World Health Organization, Instituto de Cooperación Social Integrare, the University of Central Lancashire, and Centro Rosarino de Estudios Perinatales. Read Full Storylast_img read more

Harvard receives Outstanding Case Study Award for sustainable purchasing

first_img Read Full Story Harvard has received an Outstanding Case Study Award from the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council for its work to phase out harmful chemical flame retardants in the furniture it purchases. The awards recognize organizations for documenting their sustainable purchasing efforts in detailed case studies enable others to follow their lead.As part of an initiative to target chemicals of concern on campus, Harvard’s Office for Sustainability (OFS) collaborated with faculty and researchers to educate students and staff about the six classes of chemicals of concern, and are partnering with Harvard Strategic Procurement to survey vendors and identify opportunities to purchase and procure healthier materials and products for interior building spaces.The University’s Sustainability Plan includes a specific commitment to partner with researchers in order to identify and target harmful chemicals on campus. University-wide Green Building Standards, updated in 2014, include healthy material declaration requirements (aligned with LEED v4) for the disclosure of the health and environmental impact of products that are used on campus.Recent changes to California and Massachusetts fire safety code (TB117-2013) make it possible for institutional purchasers like Harvard to choose furniture that passes all fire safety requirements free of chemical flame retardants. In November 2015, Harvard became the first university to sign a national pledge stating a preference for purchasing flame retardant-free furniture. Other signatories to the pledge include Kaiser Permanente, Facebook, Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts, Genetech and Autodesk.last_img read more

Virtual lab to extend reach of science education

first_imgAspiring scientists can get free lab access online thanks to a science education platform being developed by the Amgen Foundation and Harvard University. Called LabXchange, it will launch next year with a focus on biology and offer digital instruction and virtual lab experiences, as well as opportunities for collaborating and mentoring, to high school and college students.“There are many millions of students who, as a result of economic or geographic limitations, simply do not have access to one of the most central aspects of being a scientist, which is working in a laboratory,” said Robert Lue, principal investigator of LabXchange and professor of the practice of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard. “LabXchange addresses this issue with a platform that integrates dynamic experimental simulations with background curriculum and social networking — all created to more effectively expose students of varying backgrounds to the authentic and engaging experience of scientific discovery.”As founding sponsor, Amgen has awarded $6.5 million in grant funding to Harvard to develop, launch, and grow LabXchange. Amgen will be engaged throughout the development, and its scientists with industry experience will play key advisory roles.Potential users will test prototypes this summer, and LabXchange is expected to launch globally next year.“Advances in technology are not only having an incredible impact on how we develop and deliver innovative medicines to patients, but also on how we educate and inspire the next generation of scientists,” said Robert A. Bradway, chairman and chief executive officer at Amgen. “By joining forces with Harvard, LabXchange’s interactive educational platform will give students studying biology around the world access to a unique virtual lab experience for free, dramatically expanding the Amgen Foundation’s reach in science education.”LabXchange builds on other Amgen projects that support science education, such as the Amgen Biotech Experience, which has reached more than 600,000 high school students, and the Amgen Scholars Program.LabXchange will be built on the edX platform, the largest online learning platform in the world, with more than 35 million users globally.“EdX is delighted to be a part of this groundbreaking initiative, which aligns completely with edX’s mission to increase access to high-quality education for all learners, everywhere,” said Anant Agarwal, chief executive officer at edX. “Working with Harvard and the Amgen Foundation will allow us to develop a platform that not only creates positive outcomes for learners looking to engage in the field of scientific research, but expands innovative online learning experiences that are flexible, personalized, and adaptive on a global scale.”LabXchange is inviting collaboration with high school teachers and undergraduate research mentors to provide feedback on prototypes and insights into the most effective content and forms of interactivity. For more information, visit and follow @LabXchange on Twitter.last_img read more

Harvard through Drew Faust’s eyes

first_imgFrom Memorial Hall and the Lavietes Basketball Pavilion to the Smith Campus Center, Drew Faust reflects on the places, times, and ways Harvard marked her, sharing with us times of joy, laughter, sorrow, and poignancy during her 10 years as president of Harvard.Come experience Harvard through her eyes.The following are 360° videos. If viewing on an iOS device, use the title links to open the video on the YouTube app. Otherwise, click and drag your mouse, or move your mobile device around, to explore the 360° environment. For the most immersive experience, try using a headset, such as Google Cardboard.Memorial Hall transept “It’s a space that mimics a cathedral and is intended to inspire and uplift.”,Lavietes Pavilion “I remember very soon after I became president, attending a women’s basketball game and celebrating with them my ascension to female power.”,Calderwood Courtyard at the Harvard Art Museums “It has become a kind of public square for Harvard.”,Annenberg Dining Hall “It’s hard for me to believe that this wonderful building and that wonderful space was left almost to disuse.”,Harvard Yard “In old Harvard Yard, people raced through, they always felt they ought to be going somewhere … rather than to linger or have a conversation.”,Sanders Theatre “I can still see [Teddy Kennedy]. I left the stage, and he was supposed to follow me, and he didn’t want to leave. And I remember turning around and seeing his silhouette as he looked out at the cheering audience, and the cheers would not stop, and he would not leave.”,Harvard i Lab “It’s a space that’s designed for invention, creativity, entrepreneurship.”,Knafel Center (Radcliffe Gym) “Radcliffe alums not only used that balcony as a track, they had to learn how to lower themselves on a rope from the balcony onto the floor because it was believed that it would be important for women to know how to use a rope to get out of a burning building.”,Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center “A university-wide space, in which people could bump into each other, share ideas, find spaces in which to have meetings for their organizations and groups, and embody the sort of unity that I felt would strengthen the university.” Related A particular sound or scent, the memory of a cherished event, or a moment of profound and absolute beauty can leave an indelible mark that we carry with us for the rest of our lives. Family, history, and the 1960s all helped to shape Drew Faust, but it was illness that urged her forward Drew Faust and Larry Bacow on learning from each other, the value of humility in decision-making, and the biggest challenges facing higher education ‘What the hell — why don’t I just go to Harvard and turn my life upside down?’ Two leaders, one Harvardlast_img read more

The COVID-19 evacuation wasn’t Harvard’s first

first_img“I certainly think that many Americans, and certainly Harvard men, felt an obligation to serve following the war,” said Wright. “Speaking of today, I’m reminded of one of my daughters, who is in her second year of medical school. I’ll be willing to bet that for many people at her stage of training, careers in public health are going to seem very appealing. Circumstances, opportunities, and training can go together to influence the courses people follow.”On her last class on campus on March 11, Chaplin walked by the Widener Library, where the Class of 2020 was having their class picture taken, and felt a mix of emotions.“I remember saying to my colleague, ‘This is very sad, but they are going to have an epic class reunion when they come back,’” said Chaplin. “They will have an amazing story, and amazing grounds for solidarity.” The evacuation of campus two months ago due to the mushrooming coronavirus outbreak was a jarring if orderly affair. But then, it turns out, Harvard has had significant and varied experience with upheaval.In 1775 George Washington’s Continental Army occupied the campus, and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety ordered Harvard to vacate its grounds. Professor Joyce Chaplin reminded her students of that earlier crisis during their last on-campus class on March 11 as a way to offer some comfort by putting the move to distance learning into a historical context.“I wanted to try to reassure students that this was not unprecedented,” said Chaplin, the James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History. “The assumption was that Harvard had never had to do this before.” And other experts of the period note that not only has Harvard faced other trials, but the one in the early days of the Revolution left many students then with a renewed sense of commitment to make a difference.In that earlier evacuation students were told to leave the campus on May 1 and move to nearby Concord, where they stayed for eight months. Commencement was postponed “in consideration of the difficult and unsettled state of our public affairs,” according to records of Harvard’s Board of Overseers from that time. Students reconvened in Cambridge on June 21 the following year.This year, March brought similar changes. As the threat from COVID-19 rose globally in the first part of the year, the disease drew inexorably closer until reaching the Boston area. Before it struck hard, but when it became clear it would, Harvard decided to conduct the rest of the semester remotely through digital learning. Students shortly left for spring break, but this year not to return. Faculty had about 10 days to pivot their teaching toward online platforms. Staff members had to adapt to doing their jobs remotely, or to add masks, gloves, and caution to their campus routines if they were essential personnel.For a major university, these were lightning-quick changes. But in the weeks to come, the internet systems held strong, professors taught, students learned, and Harvard continued its mission, to the point of having its graduation ceremony, this year called “Honoring the Harvard Class of 2020,” online this Thursday morning. The program begins at 10:30, with the ceremony starting at 11. A grander, in-person celebration of the class will await safer times.Harvard has weathered other disruptions during its long history, though they were more common in the University’s early years, said Zach Nowak ’18, a College Fellow at the History Department.In 1639, Harvard shut down for a year after Nathaniel Eaton, the School’s first head, was fired over allegations that he’d severely beaten students and that his wife had served them spoiled fish and hasty pudding that had somehow been laced with goat dung.,“There are periodic student rebellions,” said Nowak, who taught the class “Intro to Harvard History: Beyond the Three Lies” last fall. “Most of these rebellions are set off by bad-quality food, but the ultimate causes are a really boring curriculum in Latin and Greek, a strict discipline, and a very paternalistic system. Remember, there were kids who were 12, 13, 14 years old going to Harvard in the 1700s.”Smallpox and diphtheria were public-health crises in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1752, a smallpox epidemic shut down Harvard for five months and canceled Commencement for that year.For historians, it is too early to know how the coronavirus pandemic will be remembered in Harvard’s records. “We are probably pretty early in the pandemic, though, so there is no way to be sure of its long-term consequences,” said Conrad Wright ’72, Sibley Editor at the Massachusetts Historical Society. “Only when it is in our rear view will we really be able to take its measure.”Historians hope students will learn from their counterparts who lived through the first student evacuation. Students from that era showed greater interest in government and public service than their predecessors or those who came after them. The end of the war and a new federal government provided new opportunities to hold office and serve, Wright said. In 1775 Commencement was postponed “in consideration of the difficult and unsettled state of our public affairs.” — Harvard’s Board of Overseers The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.last_img read more