News your connection to The Boston Globe

Falling concrete is hard to hide at UMass

Marvin Krislov, one of three finalists for the chancellor's job at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, visited campus last week to meet with students, faculty, and staff, and while there wasn't time to explore every nuance of the school's zeitgeist, he certainly grasped the problem with the campus infrastructure. At a public forum Wednesday afternoon, Krislov -- the 44-year-old general counsel of the University of Michigan -- was asked by a staff member if he had seen the decaying garage that doubles as a foundation for much of the campus. (A recent Globe story about the garage quoted a professor who said job candidates are kept away from the crumbling structure.) ''I've seen it, I'm aware of it, and it would be a high priority," Krislov answered. Within minutes of the exchange, a retired professor at the meeting was quietly taken aside by UMass officials and told that a large piece of concrete had just fallen on her car in the garage, cracking the windshield and denting the roof. ''I'm not destroyed about the car, but I am concerned about the university," said Christine Armett-Kibel, a former biology professor and dean who spent 35 years at UMass before retiring in 2003. A UMass-Boston spokesman said the university roped off several more parking spaces after the incident, and will pay for the damage. Krislov, meanwhile, noted his long interest in building issues: As an undergraduate at Yale, where he studied economics and political science, he wrote his senior honors thesis on deferred maintenance.

FINE BY HIM When hundreds of Boston College students marched around campus last month wearing ''gay? fine by me" T-shirts, it was a kind of homecoming for Lucas Schaefer, 22, a Newton native who graduated from Duke University last spring. Schaefer, who now lives in Brooklyn, helped create the Gay? Fine by Me T-shirt Project two years ago at Duke, after the university appeared on The Princeton Review's list of the most gay-unfriendly schools. Skeptical about the ranking, Schaefer and some friends printed and distributed 1,800 of the T-shirts in a week -- and Duke disappeared from the list the following year. (At BC, which has also appeared on The Princeton Review's list, students have distributed a similar number of shirts in the past two years.) The slogan has since taken off nationwide, with more than 20,000 T-shirts being purchased by college, church, and high school groups. Next, Schaefer said, he'll recruit corporations to join the campaign. ''We want to focus on places where there is a perception that homophobia exists," he said.

KEEP JOE The decision to deny tenure at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to medical anthropologist Joseph Dumit has sparked an unusual campaign on campus. Students have created a slick website,, and a button with Dumit's face on a coffee mug and the slogan, ''got joe? keep him!" Four anthropology professors are appealing the decision, which was made by another program where Dumit teaches, Science, Technology and Society. In addition, all 28 graduate students in a doctoral program cosponsored by STS have written a letter of complaint, saying that ''Professor Dumit's departure would be a grave loss." They said Dumit advises almost half of the graduate students and is one of the most accessible faculty members in Science, Technology and Society. And they see no reason why his research wouldn't pass muster -- he's written one book (''Picturing Personhood: Brain Scans and Biomedical Identity"), has a second on the way, and has edited two others. ''He's recognized as a leader in the field," said Will Taggart, one of the graduate students. The head of the Science, Technology and Society department declined to comment, citing the confidentiality of tenure deliberations, and Dumit could not be reached. The administration has told the students it will review the case.

ON THE MOVE Very slowly, Harvard is filling in some of the details of plans for its new Allston campus. Almost two years after it became clear that Allston would have a heavy science focus, a science task force last week recommended some interdisciplinary areas, which would ''profit from proximity to one another," that should be located in Allston. It said the programs should be clustered together in two complexes of about 500,000 square feet each. One would include chemical biology, innovative computing, stem cells, systems biology, and related parts of engineering. A second group would include global neglected diseases, microbial sciences, and ''the origins of life." The task force said global health and health policy should also be in Allston, within or adjacent to the newly rebuilt School of Public Health. Left unclear was how these new interdisciplinary initiatives would interact with traditional departments, which provost Steve Hyman said are not expected to move to Allston. ''We think that in the future, a very important component of all science will be interdisciplinary centers," he said. Interestingly, Hyman said the Allston process itself has spawned bold new ideas. When astronomers and molecular and chemical biologists both made separate proposals around the origins of life, the planners encouraged them to work together, and ''a lot of things came out of that that we wouldn't have imagined," Hyman said.

LOANS CUT An amendment that would have reversed President Bush's proposed cuts to the Perkins loans and college-prep programs for students from low-income families died last week in a Congressional conference committee. The amendment, which was sponsored by Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy, had passed the Senate but was not in the House version of the budget.

OUT OF THE HOSPITAL Richard J. Doherty, former senior vice president of Caritas Christi Health Care in Boston, is the new president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts. Doherty, 50, a former director of state relations for Harvard, departed Caritas Christi last fall, five months after chief executive Michael F. Collins left the network amid speculation that he was forced out. Both had been there 10 years. Collins is seeking a job of his own in higher education, as chancellor of UMass-Boston. One of three finalists for the position, he'll visit the campus to meet staff, faculty, and students this week.

Tip? Question? E-mail

Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months