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Neuroscientist backs recruiter

The young neuroscientist whose botched recruitment to MIT sparked an investigation is speaking out to defend the man who had tried to hire her.

Controversy since the summer has centered on whether a Nobel laureate, Susumu Tonegawa, had intimidated Alla Karpova into turning down the university's job offer. But last week, an investigation found that Tonegawa was only one of several people to blame.

A committee of four professors found that the man who led the efforts to recruit her, Robert Desimone , had not always acted in her best interests, or in those of MIT.

In an e-mail message sent to The Boston Globe on Friday, Karpova wrote: "The committee was too harsh on Dr. Desimone." Desimone, she added, "did EVERYTHING right in this situation . . . He NEVER put anything ahead of my well-being."

One committee member declined to comment Friday; the others could not be reached.

COMMUTING PROFS: Harvard is unintentionally discriminating against young women and men with long commutes to campus, children to pick up from day-care programs, and other personal responsibilities, according to a new internal report.

In her first annual report as senior adviser on diversity in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Professor Lisa Martin noted that in 1905, 73 percent of professors lived in Cambridge, and that most others lived very close to Cambridge. Today, only 43 percent live in Cambridge.

Yet many departments schedule meetings that regularly run until 6 or 7 p.m., she said, and they often hold retreats, seminars, or all-day meetings on weekends.

Martin, a mother who lives in Lexington, said she thinks Harvard should reconsider these late hours or risk impeding the careers of young scholars. By "setting up an uneven playing field," she wrote, the practice is "harming our quest for excellence."

CHAIR BROUHAHA: Endowing a chair is normally an exercise in formality. But at Middlebury College in Vermont, the naming of a new professorship for the late US Supreme Court chief justice, William H. Rehnquist, a conservative jurist, has sparked controversy since it was announced last month.

"After all of Middlebury's talk of wanting to be more friendly and more aware of the needs and rights of minority rights, naming this chair was a big step backward, said Tamara Vatnick , a senior and co president of the Open Queer Alliance, one of several student groups that has protested. Rehnquist, while on the court, opposed affirmative action and supported the dismantling of school desegregation orders.

President Ronald D. Liebowitz defended the professorship, funded by two anonymous donors, saying, "As a jurist, he was conservative, and his politics are not my politics, perhaps, but we are recognizing his great service."

Rehnquist had connections to Vermont, Liebowitz said, noting that he had summered in the state. His children do as well. Nancy Spears , one of Rehnquist's three children, is the wife of the Middlebury College dean of the college, Tim Spears.

POP ART AND BRANDEIS: Andy Warhol and Marilyn Monroe? Sure. But Andy Warhol and Louis D. Brandeis? Yes. The avant- garde artist created a portrait of the late Supreme Court justice as part of the series "Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century," first shown in 1980. For years, the portrait was held in storage, the property of Mark Feldman of Newton and his two siblings. This year, the portrait will hang at Brandeis University, a gift of the Feldmans in honor of the 150th anniversary of Brandeis's birth. The portrait will be unveiled on Nov. 13.

Michael Rush , director of Brandeis's Rose Art Museum, said the portrait represented a departure for Warhol, who had gained fame by painting pop icons like Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. And yet, Rush said, Warhol used the same style for Brandeis and then "elevated people like Brandeis to pop icon status."

Rose said the portrait will probably be included in an exhibit that begins in January, and thereafter the university will seek a permanent spot for the work.

WINTER 101: We did a double take last week when we saw this on Harvard Law School's calendar: "What to Wear in Winter Climates." The seminar, requested by a student from Southern California, drew 62 participants, including students from Iran and India. Hot cider, hot chocolate, and snowflake cookies were served. It seems that Dean Elena Kagan's administration is taking customer service to new heights.

E-mail tips to Campus Insider alternates with Ask the Teacher, a Globe advice column by a teacher, on Sundays in the City & Region section.

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