Henry Ehrenreich was born in Frankfurt on May 11, 1928, the only child of Frieda and Nathan—a prominent pianist, choral conductor, and music critic. It was not an auspicious time to be born a Jew in Germany.First, in 1934, Henry’s father lost his positions. Then, in November 1938, a week after Kristallnacht, he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Dachau. A few weeks later, on December 7, 1938, he was released with orders to leave Germany immediately. On December 17, after a series of operations for injuries sustained at Dachau, he fled to a refugee camp in Holland. Henry recalled all these events vividly.Six months after Nathan fled, on June 20, 1939, Frieda entrusted 11-year-old Henry to the Kindertransport, the rescue mission that delivered about 10,000 children from Nazi Germany to foster homes in England during the nine months preceding World War II. The visa on which Henry traveled, and which saved his life, had been issued to a distant cousin whose family passed it on to Henry when they decided to stick together. In the following months, Henry was sent from a children’s refugee camp in Margate to a Bayswater boarding school to a foster home in London. When not in school, he and two friends from the Kindertransport practiced English and explored the London Tube. When the British evacuated children from London, they placed Henry in Letchworth with a German-speaking family that harbored Nazi sympathies and maltreated him. Henry was desolate.On August 24, 1939, Frieda took one of the last flights to London from Frankfurt before war was declared. She obtained work as a housekeeper in Sussex and found Henry a home with a gardener and his family in Ditchling, near enough by that she and Henry could easily visit. The gardener, a compassionate fellow of limited means, was a self-taught pianist and composer. During Henry’s Ditchling stay, his love for music—long suppressed in Germany—was reawakened.In the late fall of 1939, U.S. visas, for which the family had applied in early 1935, were issued, and Nathan arrived in New York City on December 5, 1939. In March 1940, sixteen months after Nathan had fled Germany and nine months after Henry had escaped Frankfurt, the family was reunited in New York. In 1942, they moved to Buffalo, where Nathan was employed as a choral conductor and Henry entered high school.Three years later, Henry concluded his valedictory speech at graduation by calling on listeners to “… at all times think clearly, judge tolerantly, and act wisely…for this is our solemn duty to our country and to mankind.”In 1946, having won a New York State Scholarship, Henry entered Cornell. He graduated in 1950, alongside a distinguished group of non-fraternity classmates self-labeled the “gefilte phi.” During those four years, he composed a string quartet, served as a teaching assistant in mathematics, and concluded that he would pursue a career in theoretical physics. Thoughts of plying his father’s profession were set aside. In 1949, he met and began his courtship of Tema Hasnas, his wife from 1953 until he passed away on January 20, 2008.In the fall of 1951, after an academic year at Columbia, Henry returned to Cornell, to Tema, and to teaching assistantships in sections that included rambunctious future Nobelists Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg.By then, interest in semiconductor science had spread widely, fanned by the invention at Bell Laboratories in 1947 of a germanium solid-state amplifier—the transistor. To understand the properties of germanium and silicon detailed studies of their complex electronic band structures, their lattice vibrations and their imperfections were needed. The challenging problems of electron transport posed by semiconductors attracted Henry. As Albert Overhauser’s first doctoral student, Henry set to work on one of them: the scattering of holes in germanium by lattice vibrations. He completed his thesis and received his Ph.D. in Physics in 1955.From Ithaca, Henry took a second small step eastward to Schenectady, NY, to the General Electric Research Laboratory, the nation’s first industrial laboratory. In 1955, this was the home of forefront research groups in surface science, solid state science, and nuclear engineering. In collaboration with colleagues and visitors, he investigated electron-phonon interactions and electron transport in compound semiconductors (e.g., gallium arsenide); sound absorption in insulators; and, in an extensive and influential series of papers, the optical properties of metals, semiconductors, and insulators. While Henry and Tema were at Schenectady, their three children, Paul, Beth, and Robert, were born.In the fall of 1960, Henry and his family spent a term in Harvard’s Division of Engineering and Applied Physics, then led by Dean Harvey Brooks, who had come to Harvard from General Electric (GE) in 1950. Three years later, in 1963, he accepted an invitation to join the Division’s faculty as a Professor. This third small eastward move (to Cambridge and Belmont and in summers to the Cape) would be his last: Harvard remained his home base until he passed away as Clowes Professor of Science, Emeritus, a few months before his 80th birthday.As applications of semiconductor devices expanded explosively, so too—informally and through papers and editorial activities—did Ehrenreich’s stature as a master whose calculations and insights explained and predicted the electronic and optical properties of the ever more complex ingredients these devices contained. Over forty-five years he authored more than 200 papers and reviews and co-edited (first with Frederick Seitz and David Turnbull, who came from GE to Harvard in 1962, and subsequently with Frans Spaepen) over 30 volumes of Solid State Physics, a renowned and widely consulted annual review of major advances in solid state science and technology.More than 30 years ago, during the “first” oil crisis, Ehrenreich was asked to assess solar photovoltaic cells. He headed the American Physical Society’s Study Group on Solar Photovoltaic Energy Conversion from 1977-81, served on the Department of Energy’s Photovoltaic Advisory Committee, and testified before Congress in 1985.Over four decades he served and chaired innumerable national and international committees including the Solid State Commission of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics for ten years and the Department of Defense’s DARPA Materials Council for twenty years. In 1991, he spent a term working with the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House.Henry approached every activity—whether for Harvard or others, and whether research, educational, or administrative—with singleness of purpose, attention to details, and alertness to eventualities. He took care to touch bases and to rehearse presentations—his own, his students’, and those of the committees and groups he chaired.He educated and mentored many students—far more than the two dozen doctoral candidates and dozen graduate students whose research he directed demandingly and whose welfare he nurtured devotedly. With the Commonwealth’s sanction, he presided at the wedding of one of his students and one of his teaching fellows!When his day of no-nonsense work ended, he was ready to relax. The short ride home to Belmont brought a martini or two and music. Music was an important part of his life. He was an avid pianist, attended many concerts, and often discussed music with the many students, colleagues, and others who enjoyed the warm hospitality of the Ehrenreich’s Belmont home. His close friends included performers, conductors, and scholars of music. And the Mozart he played as students streamed into his Core course was intended for him as much as for them.The imaginative courses (graduate, undergraduate, Core courses, and freshman seminars) that Henry developed covered a broad range of topics: solid state physics; energy and environmental science and public policy; physics and music; and the history of science. His interest in the history of science led to his appointment as a trustee of the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology.Henry took special pride in bringing together students and other faculty from physics, chemistry, and engineering in the first multi-departmental, multidisciplinary course on materials and devices. The course was a natural complement to his efforts, as Director of Harvard’s Materials Research Laboratory (now Materials Research Science and Engineering Center) from 1982-90, to foster strong and enduring multidisciplinary research programs.As concerns about pollution and climate change grew, he spent more time working on the science and the economics of alternative energy sources—especially solar and wind.As chair of the Science Center Executive Committee and of the Core Committee on Science from 1987–1999, Henry was broadly involved in promoting and improving Harvard undergraduate education in science and engineering. He was continually engaged in recruiting other faculty and working with them on lectures and courses.His widely recognized concern for others made it natural that, as a Professor Emeritus, he be invited to serve, and that he agree to serve, as the University’s first Ombudsman.In addition to Tema and his three children, Henry leaves ten grandchildren.Respectfully submitted,Michael B. McElroyPeter S. PershanFrans A. SpaepenPaul C. Martin, Chair
Journalist and historian Diane McWhorter decided to re-issue her prize-winning book, “Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution,” after she discovered new materials on the subject, and after she visited the Buchenwald concentration camp with her two children.In a presentation on Wednesday as part of the Colloquium Series of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, where McWhorter is a Caperton Fellow, she recounted her moving visit to the notorious death camp. She was particularly affected by photographs of civilians from the neighboring town of Weimar, who were bused to the camp after the war to be confronted with the atrocities.In observing the denial and willful amnesia of some of these residents, McWhorter said she was forced to look at her own attitudes growing up in a prominent family in a segregated Birmingham.“Carry Me Home” was first published in 2001, chronicling the attempts at Civil Rights reform and their violent repression in Birmingham in 1963. These efforts and the clashes that followed led President John Kennedy to intercede and were a crucial step in the demise of segregation in the American South. McWhorter characterizes this episode of American history as “the Gettysburg of the second American Revolution.” Her book received the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction, as well as the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize from Harvard’s Nieman Foundation and the Columbia University School of Journalism.Coming of age in Birmingham in the 1960s, McWhorter described her own received attitudes toward race and toward the rioting and violence in her hometown. In her criticism of her own attitudes, and those of her family, she described her suspicions of her own father’s evening disappearances to attend “Civil Rights” meetings. She now suspects that these meetings were for organizing Ku Klux Klan and other vigilante resistance to integration. In her self-described country club milieu, she was inadvertently in the center of collusion among the city’s elites, including the government, industry, and law enforcement, to sabotage the integration movement, attack Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and other leading black clergymen, and harass aid groups such as the Freedom Riders.In a new afterword for the re-issue of “Carry Me Home,” she will discuss new materials that indicate that the collusion between powerful political interests and industry was even deeper and more pervasive than initially portrayed in the book, and included the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as the media.McWhorter’s fresh perspective is also deepened by her experience visiting Buchenwald and research conducted on a Holtzbrinck fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin in 2007.McWhorter’s work-in-progress as a fellow at the Du Bois Institute is on rocket inventor Werner von Braun. The German Von Braun, who had used Nazi slave labor to build the first V-1 and V-2 rockets to bomb Britain during World War II, was whisked away from the advancing Russian army at war’s end to land in Huntsville, Ala. There he pioneered American rocket technology and became the father of the Apollo/Saturn Space Program that put an American on the moon.McWhorter said the American South, and Alabama in particular, in 1945 was a receptive environment for the scientist’s views on race. The working title for her next book is “Moon of Alabama: From Nazi Germany to Tranquility Base, via the Segregated American South.”McWhorter also worked on this project as a Mildred Londas Weisman Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study last year.Upcoming at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute is the Nathan I. Huggins Lecture Series, which will feature George Reid Andrews Oct. 2-4 at 4 p.m. Titled “Envisioning Afro-Latin America,” the three-part series will be held in the Thompson Room at the Barker Center, 12 Quincy St., Cambridge. The event is co-sponsored by the Department of African and African American Studies and Harvard University Press.
At its fourth meeting of the year on Oct. 24, the Faculty Council continued its discussion of proposed updates to the College’s alcohol policy and heard a presentation on House renewal.
During her 20 years at Harvard, Leslie Morris has led what any book lover might see as a charmed life. As the curator of Modern Books & Manuscripts at Houghton Library, she has befriended John Updike, corresponded with Gore Vidal, pored over cross-written letters by Jane Austen, and archived Emily Dickinson’s teacups.But about a year ago, during a three-day business trip to Europe, Morris experienced cultural astonishment on a new scale. She viewed a vast collection of boxes, drawers, shelves — whole rooms — full of eccentric treasures dating back to the 16th century, all expressions of a top cultural engine: altered states of mind.“I always explain it as sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll,” said Morris of the collection, now being unpacked, examined, described, and indexed at Harvard, a process known as accessioning. But the music collection and related artifacts went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. Harvard, she said, “got the sex and drugs.”The Santo Domingo collection is on long-term deposit at Harvard. “We do not own it,” said Morris, but the owners “want us to catalog it, and they want it available for research.”The collection has an estimated 30,000 books and 25,000 posters, photographs, and other ephemera assembled by Colombian businessman Julio Mario Santo Domingo Jr.In May, Morris returned to supervise shipment of the collection to Cambridge. It has an estimated 30,000 books and 25,000 posters, photographs, and other ephemera assembled by Colombian businessman Julio Mario Santo Domingo Jr., who died in 2009. As a student at Columbia University in the 1970s, Santo Domingo had been drawn to French poets of the late 19th century. Charles Baudelaire, for one, created a brand of romanticism that hinged on sex, death, and the pleasures of the senses. It was influenced by his use of hashish, opium, and alcohol. Baudelaire described the effects of such drugs most aptly in the title of his 1860 book, “Artificial Paradises.”The Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection is now the largest of its kind in the world, and will gradually be available to scholars of literature, fine art, photography, film, history, medicine, popular culture, and more. This is a range of disciplines that makes the collection uniquely rich even within Harvard’s enormously diverse collections. “Its size is really unprecedented,” said Morris.Ranging far and wideThe collection’s breadth owes a lot to the two extraordinary collections that Santo Domingo had the foresight to buy and combine: that of the late Gérard Nordmann, a Swiss aficionado of erotica, and the one once held at the Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library in San Francisco.The Ludlow collection contained 10,000 items related to psychoactive drugs. It was named after the American who wrote the first full-length work in English on the cannabis experience, “The Hasheesh Eater” (1857). Harvard is now steward of works by crusaders both against illicit drugs and for them, like Aleister Crowley, who wrote “Diary of a Drug Fiend.”A selection of film reels, including one labeled “Nuggets and Nudists,” are among the items on long-term deposition at Harvard. “We do not own it,” explained curator Leslie Morris, but the owners “want us to catalog it, and they want it available for research.”The Nordmann collection, auctioned by Christie’s in Paris in 2006, contained only 1,200 items, but many were leading works about altered states of mind. For instance, Nordmann had acquired the original manuscript of “Story of O,” the 1954 erotic classic about female submission.“To me, this is the iconic erotic novel of the 20th century,” Morris said of the book, which has never been out of print. She carefully unboxed the manuscript and laid it on a table in a basement room at Widener Library, where much of the collection is being unpacked. The manuscript, mostly in pencil, with scant revisions, is in five folders of paper, each sheet torn from an adhesive pad as it was finished. By the last folder, the manuscript hurried along in ink, and revisions appeared in flurries. How does the manuscript compare with the novel’s many editions, Morris wondered. “This is a good project for a graduate student.”Standing nearby was Harvard archivist Alison Harris, the project manager who is unpacking most of the 700 boxes, which arrived at Harvard during the summer, and then recording what is in them. “It’s Christmas every day,” said Morris. “You never know what you’ll find when you open up a box.” As discoveries are made, she said, staffers blog about them at Modern Books and Manuscripts.Most of the cartons were shipped by sea, fitted carefully into a steel container. But 14 cartons — containing vulnerable manuscripts, photographs, films, tapes, and artifacts on vellum — were shipped by air. “You worry a lot,” said Morris of preparing a collection like this for transport.And you are amazed a lot, said Ryan Wheeler, the Harvard rare book cataloger who has been accessioning some of the books for placement in Houghton. He called the collection “pretty continually surprising.” There are many 19th-century books that were printed privately for covert societies of subscribers, volumes that rarely named authors, that concealed printing origins, and that even obscured publication dates. (One volume, Wheeler noted in a blog post, was dated “1863-1910.”)Some surprises involve the content. “I’m working on the rarest material first,” said Wheeler, “so erotica is overrepresented.” (Suddenly, he added, his job has become an interesting focus at cocktail parties.)Other surprises in the collection would appeal mostly to scholars. For instance, most of the older printed matter is in French, and much has never been cataloged in English. Others are first-time acquisitions for Harvard, including a first edition of Jack Kerouac’s 1957 classic, “On the Road.” (The collection includes five reel-to-reel tapes of Kerouac reading, singing, and talking with friends, along with a series of manuscript letters. “I’m not tough,” one reads. “I’m just a soft-hearted imbecile.”)A volume by French poet Charles Baudelaire contains handwritten letters signed by Baudelaire.Still other surprises are aesthetic, including books privately printed for select audiences of wealthy men. Wheeler brought out a rich-looking volume with a pristine calfskin cover and tight binding, an illustrated volume of Baudelaire’s “Flowers of Evil.” Such books “are just lovely to handle,” said an appreciative Morris. “My department doesn’t really acquire things simply because they are beautiful.”High and low artSanto Domingo loved art, both high and low. For every 16th-century botanical publication with hand-tinted illustrations, or for every special edition, there are dozens of more humble artifacts of erotica, crime writing, and the drug culture: posters, buttons, comic books, law enforcement patches, and even a large box of rolling papers in bright packets.Some objects were left behind, like the world’s largest collection of opium pipes. (“The library is not really set up for objects,” Morris explained.) When eBay was in its infancy, Santo Domingo had assistants scout the offerings for drug-culture snippets and geegaws, some of them snapped up for a dollar or two. (Harris showed one of her favorites, a shrink-wrapped game called “Stoner Trivia.”)Harris laid out a dozen posters on a tabletop. Santo Domingo had had them carefully backed in linen so they could be unrolled without damage.Boxes containing books, including this one titled “LSD,” represent just a portion of the major collection.There were garish posters in French that advertised American movies. Others wryly celebrate getting high. One poster, in velvet, advertised the services, by blimp, of Air Cannabis. “Come fly with us,” it offered. Another played on an education theme. “Pot,” the poster assured, “teaches us about geography.” And lest other ways of altering the mind be left out, there was a poster of Fritz the Cat immersed in a bathtub, surrounded by several pairs of female legs. Its wishful legend said in French: “He has all the vices.”From the ephemeral to the ethereal, these collectibles will aid scholars for years, said Morris. At Harvard, the Santo Domingo collection will be disbursed to libraries specializing in medicine, art, film, botany, poetry, and rare books. The Radcliffe Institute’s Schlesinger Library will get items for its cookbook archive. (The collection, explained Morris, includes “three shelves of cookbooks on how to make hash brownies and other hallucinogenic foods.”)A onetime Harvard faculty member — were he still alive — would appreciate the material about altered states. Psychedelic pioneer Timothy Leary once reacted when First Lady Nancy Reagan popularized a campaign of “Just Say No” against illicit drugs. Leary preferred another line, which he used to conclude “Flashbacks,” his autobiography: “Just Say Know.”The Modern Books & Manuscripts Department of Houghton Library is sponsoring a lecture at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 14 concerning the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection. “Collecting the Counterculture” will feature London rare books dealer Carl Williams of Maggs Brothers Ltd. The event, in Houghton’s Edison & Newman Room, is free and open to the public.
Read Full Story Throughout history, more women have died in childbirth than men have died in battle, Mahmoud Fathalla, founder of the Safe Motherhood Initiative, told attendees at the recent Global Maternal Health Conference in Arusha, Tanzania, co-sponsored by Harvard School of Public Health’s Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) and Management and Development for Health (MDH), a Tanzanian nonprofit. Fathalla and other speakers urged the more than 750 audience members, who represented 59 countries and work in more than 110 countries, to continue working for the health of the 200 million women who become pregnant each year.Conference attendees collaborated on a maternal health manifesto that was published in The Lancet on Feb. 22. Ana Langer, director of the MHTF and professor of the practice of public health at HSPH, Lancet Editor Richard Horton, and Guerino Chalamilla, executive director of MDH, co-authored the piece, which incorporated ideas raised during the conference and feedback from the participants. The authors hope to keep maternal and women’s health part of discussions during the High-level Dialogue on Health in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, held March 5-6, in Gaborone, Botswana. Representatives from the World Health Organization and United Nations will meet with government officials and experts from around the world to develop suggestions for the development framework that will follow the Millennium Development Goals.
It was a cool Marathon Monday in Boston and the on-site medical tents were keeping up with the stream of running-related strains, sprains, and dehydration cases that the event normally brings.Across town, in Boston’s Longwood section, Stephanie Kayden, senior physician in charge of the emergency room at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), a Harvard affiliate, and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS), headed a team of about 50 that, in addition to handling the regular big-city emergency traffic, had been waiting for overflow and the more serious cases from the tents.“We thought we were going to be free and clear,” Kayden said.Then came the message that there had been a bombing. Kayden, the emergency department staff, and the hospital’s incident command team — already on alert because of the marathon — sprang into action, clearing out current patients, admitting those who couldn’t go home, and releasing those who could.They called in extra trauma teams, adding 60 doctors, nurses, and other staff, more than doubling the medical personnel in the emergency department. Over the coming hours, the Brigham team treated 31 patients — two in critical condition and nine with injuries severe enough to go directly into surgery. The most badly injured, Kayden said, was a man whose right leg had been blown off below the knee.A similar scene played out at hospitals across the city, including other Harvard-affiliated institutions such as Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and Children’s Hospital Boston.The poised response was a tribute to the training that prepares medical personnel to handle such crises, Kayden said.“Even though the Brigham had never, to this time, had to respond to a bombing, these mass casualty events, as we call them, are something we train for all the time,” Kayden said. “When it finally happened, it was a testament to our training and to the drilling by our incident command team at the hospital that everything went as smoothly as it did.”“Even though the Brigham had never, to this time, had to respond to a bombing, these mass casualty events, as we call them, are something we train for all the time,” said Stephanie Kayden. File photo by Katherine C. CohenArnold Howitt, co-director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Crisis Leadership and executive director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, said the preparation was apparent across the city. Despite the large number of casualties, emergency crews were able to stabilize victims on-site and rapidly transfer them to the hospital. Major medical centers were able to absorb the sudden influx of badly injured patients.Michael VanRooyen, director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI), an HMS professor and an emergency physician at the Brigham, was among those who responded Monday. When he looked at the doctors around him, he realized many — including Kayden — were affiliated with HHI and had worked with the organization in crises around the world.“As I, like many of my colleagues, came the ER to help, I realized that most of the physicians on duty were our HHI doctors. They were as composed today as they have been in many humanitarian crises around the world,” VanRooyen said in a statement posted on the HHI website. “Yesterday was another reminder that the work we do globally is closely tied, in character and impact, to the work we do here at home.”While Harvard-affiliated physicians were responding to the needs of dozens of badly injured patients, Nicholas Christakis was trying to make sure Pforzheimer House students weren’t among them. He spent the afternoon seeking information about three student runners and dozens more who had been in the crowd. As people gathered to discuss the attacks, one Pforzheimer House tutor, a former Army explosives expert, talked about IEDs, or improvised explosive devices.“We were deeply alarmed during the course of the day here at Pforzheimer House until we could account for all of our students,” Christakis said. “We did everything from consulting our own U.S. Army bomb disposal expert to taking to Facebook.”Christakis, a professor at both HMS and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Sociology Department, is a specialist in social networks and how both good and bad effects — including things like happiness, obesity, and smoking — tend to travel along those intricate pathways. And, though people woke up in anger and despair across the region Tuesday, the bombing is the kind of event that doesn’t need social networks, Christakis said. Instead, it affects people directly.“There are physical shockwaves that emanate from the bomb, and there are psychological shockwaves as well,” he said.The impact at Harvard was magnified because of our proximity to the incident, Christakis said, showing the psychological power of nearby events to draw people’s attention, even though more distant or diffuse incidents might be more destructive or have higher death tolls.Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Michael Miller, of HMS and BIDMC, said some of the attacks’ deep impact may stem from the nature of the marathon itself.Unlike other sporting events where the losing side goes away hurt or angry, the marathon is a celebration of participation, of the athletic spirit that drives ordinary people to do something extraordinary. In Boston, it’s also an unofficial spring festival, celebrated by the entire community, with people sitting on lawn chairs and eating ice cream along the course.“Here, everybody is just enjoying a community event in the most marvelous way,” Miller said.The attack also affected people because it punctured the feeling of invincibility most of us carry just to function properly each day. It served as an unwelcome reminder of how vulnerable we are, Miller said.For those who were directly affected, recovery may entail acute medical care, physical and psychological therapy, and perhaps follow-up treatment.“It’s on a case-by-case basis, one size does not fit all,” Miller said. “If you were really close and suffered a life-changing injury, then you may have a lot of work to do to try to understand, try to figure out what happened in such a random and horrible event.”For those angry or depressed but not directly affected by the attacks, the old saying “time heals all wounds,” will likely apply, Miller said. Not watching every bit of news coverage may help, he added.“People will remember it, it will be on their minds, depending on how close to the tragedy they were,” Miller said. “People who ran the race will think about it more than I will, people downtown will think about it more than those in Newton. Time does heal.”
Houses are at the heart of a Harvard College education.From My House to Our Harvard | 2012 FAS Film
Three centuries ago, Harvard’s Commencement guests could expect to hear quite a bit from graduating students: namely, lengthy thesis defenses given in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.Today’s versions of those early orations are decidedly shorter and more audience-friendly. But as this year’s student speakers hope to prove, a fair amount of wisdom can be packed into five minutes.Each spring, the Harvard Commencement Office holds a competition to select an undergraduate speaker, a graduate student speaker, and a Latin speaker. (The latter is a graduating senior and typically a classics concentrator, though rogue classicists with a knack for the dead language are welcome to submit.) At Morning Exercises on May 30, the chosen three will give their addresses before an audience of tens of thousands gathered in Tercentenary Theatre.Below, the Class of 2013 speakers share their stories and offer a glimpse at the insights and advice they plan to offer their fellow graduates.Fanaye Yirga, Latin speakerFanaye Yirga, 21, had never studied Latin before coming to Harvard. Born in New York, at age 5 she moved with her parents to their native Ethiopia and attended an international school in the capital, Addis Ababa.“If you told me freshman year that I’d be giving the Latin oration at Commencement, I’d probably have laughed you out of the room,” said Yirga, who took her first class in the language as a College sophomore.At Harvard, she had planned to study visual and environmental studies, but her General Education courses in the classics convinced her to switch concentrations.“My rationale at the time was that I’d rather stay up all night writing papers than stay up all night editing films,” the Cabot House senior said with a laugh.Last summer, she spent five weeks in a spoken Latin program at the Paideia Institute in Rome, an opportunity that helped prepare her for the speech she will give at Morning Exercises. The address — written, appropriately, in a night-before-deadline burst of inspiration — “uses the all-nighter as a metaphor for the Harvard experience,” she said.While her immediate future is up in the air, Yirga plans to apply to graduate school to continue studying the languages and texts she discovered at Harvard. She recognizes the irony of majoring in classics, a discipline whose small ranks of undergraduate concentrators often defend it on the grounds that it provides the best training in Western thought.“As Ethiopians, we have our own classical traditions, so the Western civilization argument doesn’t quite do it for me,” she said. “But I love the literature, and that you get access to this whole tradition.”Quoting a line from Alan Bennett’s “The History Boys,” one of her favorite plays, she said, “The best moments in reading are when you come across something — a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things — that you’d thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it’s as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”Felix de Rosen, undergraduate speakerBorn in Paris and raised in Philadelphia, Felix de Rosen has long inhabited two worlds.“Growing up, I was always an outsider,” de Rosen said, “the French kid” at school, “the American” on his family’s many visits to their relatives back home. “It’s taught me to always judge a situation or environment from outside that situation’s values,” the Leverett House senior said.That hard-earned perspective, he insisted, wasn’t a bad thing — especially at Harvard, where imposter syndrome can plague even the brightest students. For de Rosen, a sharp observer, Harvard was a place to find himself, even if that meant rejecting a culture of constant achievement that can be hard to ignore.“I’m glad I’ve been here, because the challenges Harvard presents only become a prison if you don’t want to learn from them,” he said. He was drawn to the University’s history and diversity as well. “If an outsider can come here and feel at home in some way, then anyone can.”The 21-year-old government concentrator — who after graduation plans to explore his varied interests, from documentary production to museum work to consulting in developing countries — satisfied his wanderlust during breaks by traveling to far-flung places. He photographed villages in Afghanistan and Iran; visited the Kumbh Mela, India’s massive gathering of Hindu pilgrims, with an interdisciplinary team of Harvard students and professors; and spent six weeks in the rocky, barren islands of Cape Verde off the West African coast, researching the musical culture.“I have a terrifying fear of public speaking,” admits undergraduate speaker Felix de Rosen ’13. “But I can do something well while still being terrified of it.” Photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerDe Rosen also did a fair amount of exploring in Cambridge. At one of his favorite spots, Mount Auburn Cemetery, he stumbled upon the tombstone of Charles Ditmas, “Keeper of the Clocks at Harvard College,” who died in 2001 after taking care of the antique timepieces for more than half a century. De Rosen’s research into Ditmas’s legacy provided the inspiration for the speech he will give at Morning Exercises.In the lead-up to the big day, de Rosen seemed to be tackling his Commencement duties with characteristic equanimity.“I have a terrifying fear of public speaking,” he said. “But I can do something well while still being terrified of it.”Jon Murad, graduate speakerGraduating Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) student Jon Murad has a message for the hordes of nervous graduates he’ll be addressing in Tercentenary Theatre: Despite the pressures and expectations they feel as newly minted alumni, their futures are wide open.No one knows that better than Murad ’95, whose “inchoate desire to serve” took him, quite unexpectedly, from Harvard College to the New York Police Department.A native of tiny Underhill, Vt., Murad, 40, studied English and theater as an undergraduate. After graduation, he moved to Hollywood and spent several years finding steady, if not exactly gratifying, work in front of and behind the camera.“It wasn’t a contributory life,” Murad said, “and Sept. 11 made me come face to face with that.”It wasn’t until a few years after the terrorist attack, when Murad was living in New York and engaged to his college sweetheart, that he stumbled upon the opportunity to take the New York Police Department civil service exam. At 33, he became a beat cop at a housing project in the Bronx, and steadily progressed to plainclothes work, including a major wiretapping case.“It was a lot like HBO’s ‘The Wire,’ with fewer alcoholic cops,” he joked. “When it’s exciting, it’s more exciting than just about anything else.”At 33, Jon Murad became a beat cop at a housing project in the Bronx, and steadily progressed to plainclothes work, including a major wiretapping case. “It was a lot like HBO’s ‘The Wire,’ with fewer alcoholic cops,” he joked. Photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerAfter a few years, he was found out: A chief read a report Murad had written “in which I had made the mistake of using the word ‘ostensibly,’” a dead giveaway of an Ivy Leaguer.That chance encounter led to a promotion to the department’s in-house think tank, where Murad joined a small team that studied controversial issues, such as officer-involved shootings, and worked on major development projects like the design of a new policy academy. With scholarships from the New York City Police Foundation and the Harvard Club of New York City, he was given a year off to pursue a mid-career master’s degree at HKS.“My path toward service required overcoming misplaced biases about what was or was not appropriate for someone with a Harvard degree,” Murad said of his post-College years. “But there’s so much value in work that may not be what we think of when we think ‘Harvard graduate.’”When he returns to New York with his wife and two children, Murad will once again work the streets, this time as a sergeant. While his newly acquired policy skills won’t be put to immediate use in his new role, he said, his Kennedy School experience was invaluable.“It’s given me a reinvigorated sense of purpose,” he said.
Harvard’s Houghton Library contains a lush Peter Pan portfolio, a collection of vivid drawings by noted illustrator Arthur Rackham. The dozen detailed images are from the children’s book “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens,” published by J.M. Barrie in 1906. The work was based on a series of chapters in Barrie’s earlier short story collection from 1902 titled “The Little White Bird,” which featured the first iteration of the character Peter Pan, a little boy who is part bird and never wants to grow up.
This fall, Harvard Divinity School brings Russell Banks, one of the United States’ most celebrated writers of contemporary fiction, to Harvard to deliver the annual Ingersoll Lecture on Immortality.Banks’ topic will be “Feeding Moloch: The Sacrifice of Children on the Altar of Capitalism.” He will argue that immortality, if it exists, lies with people’s descendants—their children, and their children’s children, and on. In the modern era, he states, it has become increasingly difficult to protect children from dangerous forces in the world. Today, children have become the largest single segment of the consumer economy.The Ingersoll Lecture, which dates to 1896 and has been delivered by such distinguished luminaries as Paul Tillich, Stephen J. Gould, and Toni Morrison, will take place on Wednesday, November 5, at 5:15 pm, Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall.Admission is free but tickets are required. There will be a limit of two tickets available per person. Visit the HDS public events calendar or read the press release for more information. Read Full Story