Opening of Term Greetings, 2000

August 31, 2000

Dear Harvard Students,

I hope you have had a productive and enjoyable summer and that you have arrived in Cambridge rested and invigorated. I want to bring you up to date on news items of interest.


University Hall, a historically important Bulfinch building completed in 1816, has been closed for a major renovation. When the work has been finished, the building will be wheelchair-accessible, and will for the first time have reliable heating, cooling, plumbing, and wiring. At the same time, historically sensitive finishes and fixtures will be restored. The interior has been largely gutted, and the challenging work has begun of installing an elevator shaft and threading new pipes, wires, and fiberoptics around the massive wooden beams and granite stairs. We expect to return to our restored offices on the first floor of University Hall by the beginning of the spring term.

For the fall term, the office of the Dean of Harvard College is located at the Engineering Sciences Lab, 40 Oxford Street --- beyond the Museum of Comparative Zoology, on the same side of the street, or at the end of Everett Street if you are coming from the Quad. We are on the fourth floor, with elevator access through the rear entrance to the building. Located here are my own office and the offices of Deans Dingman, Illingworth, Herschbach, Epps, and Avery, Ms. Judy Fox, and Dr. S. Allen Counter. Come here for the Housing Office and the Ann Radcliffe Trust, and other matters for which you might have gone to the middle or south part of the first floor of University Hall.

What was the north end of the first floor of University Hall, the office of the Dean of Undergraduate Education, including Deans Pedersen, Wolcowitz, and Foster, is temporarily located at 1033 Massachusetts Avenue. This is an office building shortly beyond Crate and Barrel on the left side of Massachusetts Avenue, a few minutes' walk from Lamont Library and the Barker Center. This is also the location of all the other occupants of University Hall, including Jeremy Knowles, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. All email addresses and telephone numbers are unchanged, and mail addressed to University Hall will still reach any of us at the appropriate building.

An unhappy consequence of this renovation project is that there will be some inconvenience to residents of freshman dormitories located near University Hall due to the construction activities. The Widener Library renovation project will also be continuing through this year and those activities may from time to time disturb residents of Wigglesworth. Harvard will do its best to minimize the disturbance caused by these projects in the early morning hours, and we regret any unavoidable noise. We are all part of an effort to ensure that the integrity of the Yard buildings is maintained for future centuries as our predecessors maintained them for us.


President Rudenstine announced last spring his intention to step down as President at the end of this academic year. A search committee consisting of members of Harvard's governing boards has been working over the summer. Students will be receiving letters directly from the committee, and I urge you to respond if you have views or ideas to share. I am confident that undergraduate needs are very much on the minds of the committee, and that the committee would welcome hearing directly from students on what those needs are.


We welcome two new Master couples: Professors Tom and Verena Conley to Kirkland House, and Professor Lino Pertile and Ms. Anna Bensted to Eliot House. Several Houses have new Allston Burr Senior Tutors: Dr. John O'Keefe will be Senior Tutor in Dunster House, Dr. Oona Ceder will be Senior Tutor in Eliot House, Mr. Glenn Magid will be Acting Senior Tutor in Leverett House, and Dr. Courtney Bickel Lamberth will be Acting Senior Tutor in Winthrop House.

Two new deans have also joined the Freshman Dean's Office. Dr. James Mancall will take over as Assistant Dean for Dean Sarah Birmingham Drummond. And Dr. Rory A. W. Browne assumes the role of Associate Dean of Freshmen from Dr. D. E. Lorraine Sterritt. Dean Browne is no stranger to the College, as he was Allston Burr Senior Tutor in Quincy House for several years. Returning students may wish to know that Dean Wendy Franz's name is now Wendy E. F. Torrance (wtorran@fas).


As a result of the very serious financial problems of the Institute of 1770, parent organization of the Hasty Pudding Club and Theatricals, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences expects to assume responsibility for the Hasty Pudding Theater building. The building is in serious disrepair, though there is no immediate danger to those using it. In the near future it will require a major renovation, costing $10 million or more. In preparation for planning that renovation, a committee, chaired by Dean David Illingworth, has been formed to consider the programmatic needs that can be accommodated in this historic and centrally located structure, consisting both of a small theater and several floors of rooms that have been used for a variety of purposes over time.

A fundamental goal is to maintain and restore the theater space for undergraduate dramatics, and in particular for the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, which could well have lost its venue without our intervention. We anticipate that the singing groups which have used the building will continue to have access to it. We also hope to accommodate the needs of some of the other performance groups on campus, both musical and theatrical, for which practice and performance space are in critically short supply.

There are a great many other space needs for undergraduate affairs, among them meeting rooms, offices for student groups, space for important College offices heavily used by undergraduates, and social space that could be reserved for occasional receptions or parties. The committee will be looking for student help in determining what needs are most critical, and during the course of the year will inform the community of how those ideas should be put forward.


Portal pages are a new customizable web interface to useful University information, automatically initialized with information about your own courses, residence, and other links and calendar information within Harvard and beyond. Because the personalized information is based on data in official University databases, this information is always up-to-date with the University's own records. Portal pages are accessed by using your secure PIN (Personal Identification Number). If you don't have a PIN or have forgotten it, go to When you have a PIN, to access your portal page, go to and try it!


The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study came into existence last October, and we welcome its first dean, Professor Drew Gilpin Faust, who will be taking up her duties at midyear. This year's freshmen are the first undergraduate class in which men and women students have exactly the same official status in the University. This shift will have little visible consequence for most students, but several developments of significance should be noted.

The old $5 Radcliffe Union of Students fee has disappeared from the term bills of women students.

The Ann Radcliffe Trust was constituted last year; this is an office in the College, headed by Dean Karen Avery, dedicated to highlighting women and women's issues in the College. It will continue to sponsor events, talks, and discussions involving prominent women or of special interest to women students. It worked with student groups last year to support two major conferences, one on Women in Science and another on the Jewish Superwoman. Student groups with ideas of other events that will have significant community impact should be in touch with Dean Avery (avery@fas).

In addition, the Ann Radcliffe Trust will be running a grants process this year, aimed at directly funding student groups planning activities that raise awareness of women's issues on campus. The first grant application deadline is October 4, 2000.

Finally, I would note that one lingering small difference between opportunities available to men and women students has been eliminated. Though almost all Harvard College prizes, scholarships, and fellowships were opened to women in 1977, a very small number continued to be available only to one gender. In the future, all College prizes and fellowships will be open to both men and women. (A few athletic prizes are gender-restricted, though available in corresponding pairs for men and women, because they are prizes for participants in different categories of sports.)


I should like to take a moment to urge any student contemplating the use of one of the "Club Drugs" which are widely available in the Boston area to become informed about their nature and effects. In particular, use of "Ecstasy" (MDMA, methylenedioxymethamphetamine) by college students has increased significantly in the past year, and "GHB" (gammahydroxybutyrate) has also been in use, both as an intoxicant and as a "date-rape drug." Though it is common misinformation that these drugs are relatively safe and harmless with mainly euphoriant or pleasure-enhancing effects, Ecstasy has been associated with heart and kidney failure, and GHB with life-ending depression of the central nervous system. Ecstasy has been shown to cause long-lasting and perhaps permanent damage to neurons that release serotonin. Two individuals nearly died in a Harvard building last year after consumption of GHB caused them to stop breathing. Uncertainties about the origin and composition of drugs available on the street make both toxicity and concentration highly unreliable, and use in conjunction with alcohol can both cloud the user's judgment and compound the physiological effects of these drugs. For more information, here are some Web pages to consult:

Please don't put your health and your life in danger by using these drugs. Anyone concerned about their use of drugs or alcohol can get confidential help at HUHS.


The election on November 7, 2000 will set this country's direction for the time you will be in college, and beyond. If you are a US citizen, exercise your right as a member of this democracy. The last day to register to vote in Massachusetts for this election is October 18, 2000. For information on how to register and how to request a voter registration form, visit the website established by the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at Both Massachusetts and Federal Voter Registration Forms are available at this site. The Federal Election Commission provides voter registration information at If you are a registered voter and you will not be able to go to your polling place at the time of the election, be sure to request an absentee ballot. These must arrive in the appropriate state office no later than noon of the day before the election.

I send my best wishes for the coming academic year, and hope that you will use the resources here to your best advantage. Deans, Masters, Senior Tutors, Tutors, Proctors, faculty, HUHS, the Bureau of Study Counsel, the Office for Career Services, student peer groups --- as well as your families and friends --- stand ready to help; if the first person you talk to doesn't have the answers, don't hesitate to contact others in search of support. To acknowledge confusion and to ask questions are signs of maturity, not weakness. In a moving speech delivered by graduating senior Brooke Ellison last spring, she said, "As much as we would like to take credit for our own accomplishments, none of us would be here had it not been for the efforts and caring of those who helped along the way. Our mutual dependence is so often misdiagnosed as self-reliance." Please let others know what they can do to help you realize your ambitions and dreams.

Sincerely yours,


Harry R. Lewis

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