On April 15, over 100 Harvard administrators, staff, and students made their way across the river to participate and watch the Boston Marathon, one of the nation’s, and the city’s, top athletic events. Around 2:50 p.m., an explosion near the finish line on Boylston Street interrupted the cheers and shouts of recovering runners and spectators. Seconds later, another explosion went off a block away, filling Copley Square with screams from onlookers and sirens from emergency vehicles careening down Boylston Street to aid the more than 200 injured and three who would later die. By the week’s end, a city-wide lockdown and manhunt had paralyzed the greater Boston area and brought members of the Harvard community within miles of suspected terrorists—one who was a former University employee.
Within minutes, news of the attacks hit Harvard. Immediately, administrators tapped into the University’s crisis management structure, and, along with House staff and students, worked to track down Harvard affiliates potentially trapped in the crisis. Though law enforcement authorities ultimately deemed Harvard Square safe, concern about the possibility of further attacks triggered the evacuation of the John F. Kennedy School of Government and frequent investigations by the Cambridge Police Department into “suspicious packages” on public streets. For much of the afternoon and evening, members of the Harvard community exchanged suspicions and updates about the explosions, gathered in common spaces around campus, and waited—many say too long—for news from administrators.
While investigators continued the search for suspects and campus life began to resume its normal pace, a fatal shooting at MIT around 11 p.m. Thursday evening jolted Harvard back into high alert. Police cars raced across the streets of Cambridge in pursuit of the two men who had shot the MIT officer and were now driving away in a stolen car: Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, then 19, a former University lifeguard, and his brother Tamerlan. By morning, law enforcement authorities had concluded that the brothers were the top suspects in the Marathon bombing investigation and that Tamerlan had died in an early morning shoot-out, leaving Dzhokhar at large somewhere in or near neighboring Watertown.
Though many Harvard affiliates had stayed awake watching news broadcasts and tuning into police scanners for the latest updates on the chase, others woke up on Friday morning, April 19, to find that much of the Boston area was under lockdown and that the University had closed for the day, as municipal, state, and federal law enforcement authorities searched a 20-block area for the suspect still at large. The closure was Harvard’s third during the 2012-2013 school year but only the fourth in 35 years.
After a day under lockdown and heightened alert, members of the Harvard community rejoiced when, at 8:45 p.m., FBI officials captured Dzhokhar just outside the designated search area in a Watertown backyard.
When all was said and done, the unprecedented chaos of the week had prompted the mobilization of the Harvard community to keep its campus safe and operable, from administrators to police officers, to students standing in for staff unable to make it into work. And with the cancellation of Visitas, the College’s preview weekend for admitted students, administrators launched a Virtual Visitas on social media to engage prospective students. During and after the week, members of the Harvard community attended and held vigils on campus and in Boston to commemorate the over 250 injuries and the 3 fatalities, including that of a former Business School employee, a victim of the deadly, pressure cooker-based, shrapnel-laced explosions.
- April 152:50 p.m. Two explosions go off near the finish line of Boston Marathon, injuring a handful of Harvard affiliates and killing one former one.
- April 15approx. 6:15 p.m. Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith announces the cancellation of remaining FAS classes and events for the day. The announcement followed the precautionary evacuation of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the cancellation of Extension School classes earlier in the day.
- April 1810:48 p.m. An MIT police officer is shot and killed on the university’s campus by brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev. Harvard University Police Department requests officers to stay on duty for twice the length of their regular shifts as Cambridge goes on alert. Administrators begin conducting hourly conference calls.
- April 1912:40 a.m. Authorities engage in a shootout with the brothers in Watertown, leaving Tamerlan Tsarnaev dead and Dzhokhar at large, following a police car chase through the streets of Cambridge and Watertown.
- April 19approx. 6:00 a.m. Administrators announce that the University will close for the day as Boston goes into lockdown. HUPD officers search the University’s athletic facilities. In the next few hours, the Law School cancels its spring reunions, the College cancels Visitas, and staff and administrators coordinate the production and delivery of meals to displaced employees, police officers, and graduate students.
- April 196:00 p.m. Law enforcement authorities lift the lockdown with the remaining suspect still at large.
- April 198:45 p.m. FBI officials capture and arrest Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev in a boat in the backyard of a Watertown residence, ending the manhunt.
With the casebook closed on the Government 1310 cheating case and the spring semester safely underway, it seemed by early March that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences was returning to normalcy after the largest cheating scandal in memory. But on the evening of March 9, a Saturday, the Boston Globe ran a story saying Harvard administrators had secretly searched the email accounts of resident deans in hopes of identifying a possible leak of information related to the Gov. 1310 case. As insight into the searches unfolded in the coming months, the secret query became a scandal in its own right, one that eventually led to a review of the resident dean position, a loss of trust within the Faculty, and some believe, the resignation of one of Harvard’s top deans.
At the April meeting, University president Drew G. Faust commissioned both an external investigation of the actions taken in the search and a task force to review existing policy on electronic communications across the University. Students and faculty alike mourned the breakdown in communication and trust between administrators and those they govern. On April 4, The Crimson editorial board wrote an editorial calling for Hammonds’s resignation and at their May meeting, members of FAS lodged complaint after complaint against administrators related to faculty governance. Meanwhile, The Crimson reported on April 9 that the resident dean identified by administrators as having forwarded what they considered confidential Administrative Board information at the center of the search was threatened with severe sanctions.
On May 17, The Crimson broke the news that Hammonds would resign as dean at the school year’s end. On May 28, the eve of Commencement, Smith made the news official. Hammonds denied that her decision to step down was related to the scandal. In July, the independent investigation into the incident, the Keating Report, found that the account given by Hammonds and Smith after the April 2 meeting was correct, save the fact the Hammonds had notified Smith of the second, policy-breaking round of searches by email. Smith later said he opened the email but did not closely read it. By the time students and faculty returned to campus for the fall semester, though, controversy over the searches had all but died. The email policy task force commissioned by Faust is expected to give recommendations for a new policy sometime this winter.
- September 12-15, 2012 After initial efforts to identify the source of an alleged leak of information related to the Government 1310 cheating case fails, Harvard administrators order three separate rounds of searches on resident deans’ email accounts.
- March 9, 2013 The Boston Globe breaks news of the searches, almost a month after FAS Dean Michael D. Smith declared the Gov. 1310 case closed.
- March 11 Smith and Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds release an erroneous joint statement explaining why and how they conducted the searches.
- May 8 Faculty members, pointing to a loss of trust after the searches, gather at the monthly faculty meeting to question the efficacy of their own governance in an hour-long airing of grievances before administrators.
- May 17 The Crimson breaks the news that Hammonds will resign her deanship at the year’s end, drawing to a close her five-year tenure. On May 28, Smith makes the development official to the Harvard community.
- July 22 The Keating Report is released and made public, corroborating the administrative account of the searches and providing new details into how administrators had handled the investigation that spawned them.
Nearly a month after the Boston Globe broke news that Harvard administrators had secretly searched the email accounts of its resident deans, Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds stood before assembled members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to tell them that the account administrators had been telling was incomplete and that she was to blame. By the school year’s end, she had resigned and an interim dean was at the helm of the College in her place.
On April 4, The Crimson’s editorial board called on Hammonds to resign. For more than a month neither Hammonds nor Smith commented on the searches or the April 2 revelation. On May 17, The Crimson broke the news that Hammonds was in negotiations to step down at the school year’s end, a development that was confirmed eleven days later by Smith in an email to the Harvard community.
On July 9, more than a week after Hammonds had officially left University Hall and ended her five-year tenure as dean, Smith named botany professor Donald H. Pfister interim Dean of the College. Pfister—a longtime professor, Dean of Harvard Summer School, former Kirkland House master, and the chair of the committee that reviewed the Administrative Board from 2008-2010—said that his goal as dean would be to build community and better marry College and academic life by strengthening the relationship between undergraduates and their dean. To that end, Pfister became known among undergraduates during the fall semester for his folksy email updates and book recommendations.
Meanwhile, in September, Smith formed an advisory body of 21 professors and House masters to help conduct the search for Hammonds’s permanent replacement. The search process, which was ongoing throughout the fall, brought various aspects of the position into question as Smith asked students and faculty members what they hoped to see in a College dean. A new dean is expected to be named sometime in the spring.
- March 9, 2013 The Boston Globe breaks news of the searches, almost a month after FAS Dean Michael D. Smith declares the Gov. 1310 case closed.
- March 11 Smith and Dean of the College Evelynn Hammonds release an erroneous joint statement explaining why and how they conducted the searches.
- May 17 The Crimson breaks the news that Hammonds will resign her deanship at the year’s end, drawing to a close her five-year tenure.
- May 28 Smith makes the development official to the Harvard community. Hammonds says the decision to end her tenure was not related to the email search scandal.
- June 30 Hammonds leaves University Hall after five years as Dean of the College.
- July 9 Donald H. Pfister, a longtime botany professor, Dean of Harvard Summer School, and the chair of the committee that reviewed the Administrative Board from 2008-2010, is named interim Dean of the College.
- September-December Smith forms a committee of 21 professors to aid in his search for a new Dean of the College. Smith, along with the committee, holds a series of forums to gain feedback from students about the deanship and interview candidates.
Backroom whispers became anticipatory cheers in Sanders Theatre in September as Harvard kicked off the five-year public phase of its university-wide capital campaign and set a fundraising goal of $6.5 billion that surpassed both its own historic ambitions and those of its peer institutions. “It is up to us to make sure that we continue to build, to lead, to advance in a world almost unimaginably different from the one our founders inhabited nearly four centuries ago,” Faust said in her campaign launching remarks.
The launch of The Harvard Campaign attracted prominent donors and alumni from around the world, featuring a faculty panel, speeches from campaign staff and University leadership, and a question-and-answer session with famous Harvard College dropout Bill Gates.
The public launch, which concluded the campaign’s multiyear “quiet phase” of soliciting donors and gauging alumni support, marked the beginning of a massive, coordinated effort to raise funds for University-wide priorities that include teaching and learning, bolstering financial aid, advancing HarvardX, and promoting sustainability on campus. A string of big gifts in the last few years helped big-ticket projects like House renewal and the impending move of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to Allston get under way. But the pace of announcements quickened this fall as administrators announced campaign gifts for the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, the Graduate School of Design, and the Smith Campus Center—the University’s first ever campus center, which is slated to open in 2018—among others.
Along with these priorities, each school has an individualized set of goals and many, including the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the School of Public Health, and the GSD, hosted their own star-studded launches this fall. In 2014, the remaining schools will host launches and the University is expected to continue to announce high-profile donations and other campaign developments as it adds on to the more than $3 billion already in the coffers.
Final examinations were beginning as usual shortly after 9 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 16 when alarms began to sound in four campus buildings. Test takers and administrators in the Science Center, as well as Thayer, Emerson, and Sever halls, were forced to evacuate and relocate as authorities swept in to investigate the threat of explosives placed in each building. By the next evening, the threats had proven to be empty and a Harvard sophomore was behind bars.
An affidavit filed with the U.S. District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday, Dec. 17, showed that Eldo Kim ’16, a Quincy House resident, had emailed University administrators, the Harvard University Police Department, and the president of The Crimson on Monday morning, saying that explosives had been placed in two of the four buildings and would detonate shortly. The threat, Kim later told law enforcement authorities, was meant to get him out of his own 9 a.m. exam in Emerson Hall. Shortly after Kim sent the email, his plan had worked.
Hundreds of students scheduled to take tests in the evacuated buildings found their exams postponed or rescheduled as administrators scrambled to accommodate those displaced by the threats. Many students were given the opportunity to let their partial grade stand or to take the final in the spring pass/fail. However, even as local, and then state and federal authorities rushed onto campus and the national media took notice, the threats proved unfounded. One by one, the four evacuated buildings were cleared for entry, the Yard reopened, and students displaced to Annenberg Hall and other locations allowed to return to life as normal.
That night, the FBI and other authorities traced the masked emailed threats to Kim and obtained a confession in his Quincy dormitory. Kim, a former peace essay winner and a part of many campus publications, appeared in the U.S. District Court in Boston on Dec. 18 and was released on bail. He could face up to five years in prison, three years of probationary release, and a $250,000 fine if convicted under the federal bomb hoax statute, though the prosecution said it was working with the defendant’s lawyers to find alternatives to detention. Kim is currently under the supervision of his uncle and sister, who were appointed as his guardians by the court.
When the Undergraduate Council Election Commission announced in early November that three sets of candidates were vying for the positions of UC President and Vice President, all the pieces seemed to be in place for another normal election cycle. Yet just a month later on Dec. 8, after unpredictable voting mishaps, resignations, and a special election, the UC inaugurated two vice presidential candidates from separate tickets. Once part of opposing tickets, Gus A. Mayopoulos ’15 and Sietse K. Goffard ’15 will hold the offices of UC President and UC Vice President, respectively, for the coming year.
The three tickets began officially campaigning for undergraduate votes on Nov. 13. The two serious tickets—C.C. Gong ’15 and Goffard, and Chika-Dike Nwokike ’15 and Una Kim ’15—drew from their experience on the Council and put forth similar campaign platforms. While the members of the joke ticket, Sam B. Clark ’15 and Mayopoulos, set out on a different path, focusing on promises of tomato basil ravioli soup and two-ply toilet paper, joke tickets were common occurrences in past UC elections.
Then on the night of Nov. 18, hours after voting began and the three tickets formally debated, the Election Commission notified the candidates that due to an inadvertent error, the Commission had not allowed voters to rank all three tickets, as the rules mandated. While online voting was still live, the Commission and candidates decided to change the vote counting system to a plurality method, in which only a plurality of votes is required for a ticket to claim victory. With the error in the background, the joke campaign surged in popularity on social media in the final days of the election and garnered more Facebook page “likes” than its contenders, but Gong and Goffard nabbed many of the highly sought-after student group endorsements.
After votes were tallied, the Election Commission announced that with a plurality of votes—all that was necessary under the changed vote tabulation rules—Clark and Mayopoulos had edged out second-place finishers Gong and Goffard to win the election. Just minutes later, the duo said that they would resign from their newly-elected positions “as soon as we can.”
At the time of their resignation, UC Bylaws only provided for the situation when a sitting UC President and UC Vice President resigned their positions. Anticipating the possibility that Clark and Mayopoulos would refuse to be inaugurated, the Council voted to amend the bylaws to allow for the UC President-elect and UC Vice President-elect to vacate their positions. Later that same night, less than a week before the scheduled inauguration, Mayopoulos publicly announced that he had changed his mind: he would not resign from his elected position. With Clark still intending to step down, UC rules dictated that Mayopoulos would now be UC President-elect, leaving the UC Vice President-elect position to be filled by an internal UC vote. At the Dec. 8 UC meeting, representatives nominated Goffard and an unexpected challenger, former UC Secretary Meghamsh Kanuparthy ’16, for consideration by the Council. The Council elected Goffard after an hour of deliberations, finalizing the UC leadership for 2014.
Harvard basketball’s march through uncharted territory was expected to slow in 2012-2013. Yet, a season beginning in turmoil ended later in March than ever before.
The Crimson had reached progressively loftier heights in each of its previous three seasons entering the fall of 2012, but the preseason departure of the team’s two co-captains in connection with the Government 1310 cheating scandal dropped Harvard from clear favorite to just one of multiple contenders in the Ivy League championship race. A freshman point guard, a short bench, and just one senior were left to fight for a third-straight conference title.
But Harvard found a way. Surprising success from then-freshman point guard Siyani T. Chambers ’16 and the emergence of then-sophomore center Kenyatta A. Smith ’15 during a crucial weekend in February kept Harvard near the top of the Ivy standings. Two late-season losses by Princeton sent the Crimson dancing again. Harvard’s third straight Ivy championship earned it a 14-seed in the NCAA Tournament and a matchup with the third seed in the West Region, the University of New Mexico.
The Crimson entered the game as a double-digit underdog but jumped out to a 9-2 lead and maintained an advantage for nearly the entire game. Then-sophomore Wesley S. Saunders ’15 scored 18 and then-junior captain Laurent Rivard ’14 hit five three-pointers as Harvard busted millions of brackets with a 68-62 victory. It proved to be the Crimson’s most important game of the year and, indeed, recent program history. The team’s season ended two days later with a 74-51 loss to Arizona, but the 2012-13 Crimson had already achieved another Harvard milestone, notching the team’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
- Jan. 26, 2013 It was bound to be a tight Ivy race all season, and an early home loss was something the Crimson couldn’t afford. Sharp shooting from Christian Webster ’13 helps Harvard reverse a seven-point deficit in the last 1:10 and prevail over Dartmouth in overtime.
- Feb. 15-16 Harvard officially becomes a contender with a home sweep of Penn and league favorite Princeton. It is a breakout weekend for center Kenyatta A. Smith ’15, who anchored the defense with 16 blocks in the two games.
- March 9 A comfortable home win against Cornell guarantees Harvard a share of the Ivy crown, but an assist from Brown later in the night sends the Crimson to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in two years after the Bears upset Princeton.
- March 21 Arguably the biggest day in program history, the underdog 14-seed Crimson takes down No. 3 New Mexico for Harvard’s first-ever Tournament win. Five three-pointers from Laurent Rivard ’14 and an off night from the field for the Lobos are enough for Harvard to move on in the Big Dance.
- March 23 The Crimson’s record run comes to an end, as Arizona knocks off Harvard 74-51, ending their season and tournament hopes.
At the December meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris was put on the spot by government professor Harvey C. Mansfield ’53, who during the meeting’s question period asked administrators to reveal the grade distribution at Harvard College. Harris’s uneasy answer—that the median grade at the College is an A- and that the mode is a straight A—quieted the room and attracted the attention of media outlets around the world.
After Harris’s disclosure, a Harvard official interviewed by The Crimson said that not only was the information true of Harvard College, but also true for undergraduates in each of the college’s divisions—Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and Sciences—as well as the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. At Harvard, worries of grade inflation are nothing new.
As students wondered if the news would affect how their fall term courses would be graded, national outlets raced to criticize Harvard for the alleged grade inflation. But many Harvard professors defended their grading practices, telling The Crimson that they were not overly concerned about the potential consequences of higher grading averages and that elevated grades do not necessarily indicate that Harvard is getting easier.
University administrators, including Harris, have declined to release more detailed grade information, ensuring that the curiosity surrounding grading at Harvard will linger into 2014.
Budget battles in the nation’s capital hit home this spring when the sequester—a set of automatic, across-the-board cuts to government spending—slashed federal research budgets, resulting in reductions that could cost Harvard tens of millions of dollars in lost funding for scientists and other researchers across its schools. The University received more than $650 million from Washington during FY 2012.
Though the cuts, designed to help curb the nation’s budget deficit, were initially meant to take effect in January, legislative maneuvers and continuing debate in Congress postponed the final decision until the end of February. When the cuts finally took effect on March 1, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, two of the top sources of research funding at Harvard, were forced to confront 5 percent spending reductions, while the Department of Defense faced cuts of approximately 8 percent.
University researchers already beleaguered by years of stagnant funding—especially researchers in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard Medical School, and other schools with a high reliance on federal support—worried that new funding pressures would hinder the progress of young, budding scientists and deter students from entering research-centered fields. While many researchers have turned to private sources of funding to supplant the loss in federal support, most say that these alternative funding channels are not perfect substitutes, especially for basic, rather than applied, research endeavors.
Both before and after the sequester took effect, University President Drew G. Faust lobbied in Congress on behalf of Harvard’s researchers, calling scientific research the “a foundation of our success as a nation for the past 60 years.” The president even dedicated much of her Commencement address to the subject. For now, researchers across campus are working to adjust to the altered funding landscape, which, if left unaddressed, will mean yearly reductions for the next decade.
Harvard’s endowment may be growing again, but debate over the University’s investment decisions attracted national attention this year when University President Drew G. Faust released a letter reaffirming Harvard’s stance against fossil fuel divestment and as concerned students continued to mobilize and rally against the University’s position.
In recent years, a vocal group of students, alumni, and other University affiliates has called for Harvard to divest its $32.7 billion endowment from fossil fuel companies, and in November 2012, a majority of voters expressed support for referenda that called for fossil fuel divestment and the creation of a social choice endowment fund. Throughout 2013, these individuals, many of whom belong to on-campus organizations like Responsible Investment at Harvard and Divest Harvard, hosted events, coordinated rallies, and voiced their concerns to University officials. In February, proponents of responsible investing expressed cautious optimism when the Harvard Management Company, which manages the University’s endowment, created a new vice presidential position devoted to sustainable investing concerns.
Yet a letter penned by Faust and released by the University in October reaffirmed the University’s stance against divestment. In the letter, Faust argued that fossil fuel divestment would politicize the University’s endowment, bear little impact on the fossil fuel industry, and divert attention from Harvard’s other environmentally-oriented endeavors.
The president’s letter sparked immediate outrage on campus and across the nation from divestment advocates, including student groups, alumni like environmentalist Bill E. McKibben ’82, and even the mayor of Seattle. Many activists vow to continue to push for divestment in the coming years.