Harvard University president Drew Faust has won a measure of vindication in an extended flap over comments to BusinessWeek regarding public universities and science research.
In its Feb. 4 issue, the magazine published a clarification acknowledging that Faust did not say it "would be wise" for less affluent universities to emphasize the humanities and social sciences over the hard sciences, as it had written in a December article, "The dangerous wealth of the Ivy League."
In a letter to the editor in the same issue, Faust wrote that "I did not say and emphatically do not believe that our leading public universities, which have been so important for so long to the nation's scientific enterprise, should somehow cede the field to well-endowed private institutions."
Harvard officials immediately said Faust's comments were taken out of context, but administrators at public research universities took issue nonetheless, submitting a tartly worded response to the magazine last month. Despite the clarification, BusinessWeek, after reviewing a tape-recorded conversation between its reporter and Faust, still wrote that "we believe we reported her comments fairly."
BC building plan hits snag
Boston College's Brighton neighbors have bristled at the school's plans to build dormitories on the former Archdiocese of Boston property near their homes. But it is the potential of unmarked graves on the 65-acre land that could complicate the college's expansion efforts.
The Massachusetts Historical Commission is calling for an "intensive archeological survey" of the land to identify any gravesites and is urging the college not to demolish three houses on Foster Street that the society describes as historic. In a recent letter to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which is reviewing BC's plans to build its Brighton campus, Brona Simon, the commission's historic-preservation officer, wrote that the property "is likely to contain historical and/or Native American archeological resources," including graves of Sulpician Fathers, an order of diocesan priests.
In its 10-year master plan, filed with Boston officials in December, BC proposed building dorms, athletic fields, an art museum, a school of theology, and administrative offices on the Brighton land.
The proposed expansion, Simon added, would "severely alter the character and setting" of the property, echoing neighbors' protests.
Wellesley boosts aid
Joining a growing number of top colleges that have recently expanded financial aid, Wellesley College has eliminated loans for students from families who earn less than $60,000 and reduced loans by one-third for families with incomes between $60,000 and $100,000.
Under the new plan, which takes effect this fall, students from those families will graduate with a maximum debt of $8,600. "This plan will bolster aid to students and families who need it the most, those who are least able to repay loans," said the college's president, H. Kim Bottomly.
The college had previously capped the maximum debt burden at $12,825. Nearly 30 percent of the 2,380 Wellesley undergraduates come from families with an annual income of less than $60,000, and an additional 31 percent are from families with incomes are below $100,000.
The initiative will increase Wellesley's spending on financial aid to about $40 million per year, 80 percent of which comes from its $1.7 billion endowment. Wealthy universities and colleges have come under criticism in recent months for spending too little of their endowments. Seventy-six institutions now have endowments greater than $1 billion.
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