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Tufts president leads the way with marathon tradition

Tufts University had nearly 200 runners in last Monday's Boston Marathon, including students, professors, parents, alumni, a member of the board of trustees, and the team's star and unofficial captain: President Larry Bacow. Bacow first ran the Boston Marathon in 2003, and the ''President's Marathon Challenge," which raises money for research on nutrition, obesity, and hunger, has become a campus phenomenon. Bacow had to bow out of the race last year because he suffered from pericarditis, an inflammation in the lining of the heart, so his return this year was particularly emotional for many at Tufts. ''When I started running again in October, I could not run a mile without stopping," Bacow said in an interview. ''My fellow runners really helped me through this." Bacow, who ran with his two sons, said his goal was ''to be vertical at the finish," and vertical he was, finishing in 5 hours and 26 minutes. The Tufts runners ranged in age from 18 to 60, and one, first-year medical student Scott Loomis, finished in the top 50. The team was also joined by about 350 volunteers handing out water and Gatorade. Bacow said he considers the marathon a new campus tradition, one that not only raises money for a good cause but builds community and inspires students to greatness. ''I keep encouraging my fellow [college] presidents to come out and join us, but nobody's taken me up on the offer yet," Bacow said. ''The best thing about doing this is that when you go out and run with people, it breaks down all the barriers. I spend a lot of time with students in various settings, but when you're out in winter hats and gloves trying to stay warm, or in shorts and a T-shirt, we're all just runners."

LINGUISTICS MATTERS: When Brandeis University officials put forward a proposal that would have made drastic cuts in certain fields, including closing the linguistics major, a faculty review panel said that some professors were so demoralized they were thinking about taking other jobs. Brandeis gave up on the plan in face of opposition, but now the chairman of the linguistics program, Ray Jackendoff, has taken a job at Tufts after 34 years at Brandeis. Jackendoff said the failed attempt to cut his program had not driven him out, but he was clearly not impressed with the administration's commitment to his field. ''At Brandeis, I was pretty much locked into the same program I've had for many years," he said. ''Political problems" led to the departure of some of his colleagues in the early 1990s, when Jackendoff said the graduate program was shuttered. Jackendoff, 60, will become codirector of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts, where he said the administration seems excited about the field. Brandeis is now scrambling to figure out who will teach linguistics classes next year, since the program's other professor is on leave, but a spokesman said that Jackendoff will probably be replaced.

BU KNOWS BUSINESS: The current issue of Business Week reports that applications to the magazine's list of Top 30 MBA programs had dropped almost 30 percent since 1998 -- and 50 percent or more at some schools. But there are no long faces at the Boston University School of Management. There, this year's applications are up more than 25 percent from last year's. Why the good fortune? Officials point to BU's array of specialized programs, including a healthcare MBA, a nonprofit MBA, and, especially, its new MS-MBA, which includes a masters of science in information systems. The Financial Times this year put the school in its top 30 business schools in America.

WELL-KRAFTED: After a controversy at Columbia University over whether professors in Middle East studies classes intimidated Jewish students, New England Patriots owner and Columbia alumnus Robert Kraft and his wife, Myra, are helping to establish the new Kraft Family Fund for Interfaith and Intercultural Awareness. The university, which matched the Krafts' $500,000 donation, said the fund will be used to foster open debate and civic discourse.

FAUX SCHOLARS: Three MIT graduate students were annoyed by the amount of ''spam" they were receiving from a Florida academic conference, so they decided to fight back -- by submitting a gibberish paper. The Florida conference actually accepted ''Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy," which Jeremy Stribling, Max Krohn, and Dan Aguayo generated with a computer program they created to string together grammatical, but incoherent, text. Once organizers of the World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics heard about the prank, they canceled the students' invitation to present and put a defensive explanation on their website, saying they hadn't actually read the paper before accepting it.

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