Larry Summers has been cordially disinvited to speak at the University of California after several UC-Davis professors, most of them women, circulated a petition protesting his appearance. The former Harvard president was due to address the university's Board of Regents tomorrow night, but the invite was rescinded after biology professor Maureen Stanton and some of her colleagues questioned the appropriateness of having Summers speak. Citing his infamous women-in-science remarks and clashes with former Harvard African-American studies professor Cornel West, the petitioners said Summers had "poor relationships with women and underrepresented minority faculty" at Harvard. "Inviting a keynote speaker who has come to symbolize gender and racial prejudice in academia conveys the wrong message to the university community and to the people of California," reads the petition. Our attempts to reach Summers were unsuccessful yesterday, but in a statement to the Harvard Crimson, he said: "I often participate in discussions of this kind, and find that I always learn a great deal from the exchange of views and am sorry that the regents do not feel the same way." A Summers supporter, Harvard economics prof N. Gregory Mankiw called the regents' decision outrageous. "This is truly ridiculous," said Mankiw. "Larry is a tremendously prominent intellectual and universities are supposed to be places where you can debate ideas openly." Summers's ho-hum replacement? Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's chief of staff, Susan Kennedy.
Another director in the familySomewhere between screening her directorial debut "Rails & Ties" in Toronto and getting an award at the Boston Film Festival, Alison Eastwood got a wicked cold. But that didn't keep Clint Eastwood's daughter from talking about the movie, which stars Marcia Gay Harden and Kevin Bacon. "It's a quiet film . . . a real character study, which is why I wanted to do it," she told us yesterday at the InterContinental Boston Hotel. Eastwood, who wasn't in Boston when her father filmed "Mystic River," said her whirlwind visit was pleasant, but too short. "From what I've seen of the city, I really like it," she said, fighting a sneeze. "I'll have to come back and spend some more time when I can enjoy it."
Eyes on the prizesSean McDonough's annual fund-raiser for children's charities raised about $500,000 Sunday. Among the auction items generating the most dough were courtside seats to a Celtics game - with Donnie Wahlberg. The former New Kid happened to be in the house Sunday, and when the bidding topped $10,000, Wahlberg offered to go to games with both bidders, and also tossed $10,000 into the kitty himself. But the priciest item of the evening was a week at a sumptuous spread in the Italian countryside. For that, George Boedecker, creator of Crocs, ponied up $40,000.
Haysbert follows Mamets ordersDennis Haysbert has played Nelson Mandela in "Goodbye Bafana" and the president in TV's "24." But nothing prepared the star of the CBS drama "The Unit" for reciting dialogue by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet. "Once you get the pace down, it's not as much of a challenge," Haysbert told us before heading into a WBZ-TV lunch at the Palm restaurant in Copley Square. "Unless you try to add your own color to it and [then] you'll have problems." As it starts its third season, Haysbert said people still have issues with the themes in the show, about an elite Army unit. "People confuse the military as being the administration. They aren't the same," he said. "But I can tell you from what I can see . . . people should sleep better knowing the real soldiers are out there."
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