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After a concerted campaign by student activists and the Nobel Peace Prize–winning group Doctors Without Borders, Yale and Bristol-Myers Squibb on March 14 agreed to change the licensing arrangement for a key anti-HIV drug and make it available at low cost throughout Africa, the continent hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic.
At least 34 million people around the world are infected with the virus that causes AIDS, and more of them live in South Africa—an estimated 4.7 million—than in any other country. But while new medications now enable HIV-positive men and women to live longer and more normal lives (there is no cure), the high cost of these drugs—estimated at $10,000 per year—has put them out of reach of most South Africans and residents of other Third World countries.
Yale holds the patent to one of these drugs, which it licensed in 1988 to Bristol-Myers Squibb. The medication, marketed under the trade name Zerit, earned the University some $40 million in royalties last year. During March, however, both the licensing agreement and the profits came under international scrutiny when Doctors Without Borders asked the University to relax its patent rights and enable a cheaper generic version of the drug to be made available in South Africa. In its reply, Yale administrators expressed agreement with the group’s goal but noted that the license precluded its ability to do much of anything. Faced with growing protests by students and faculty, as well as a groundswell of public criticism, the University and BMS came up with a plan to make Zerit available for the below-cost price of 15 cents per day. “This is not about profits and patents; it’s about poverty and a devastating disease,” said BMS executive vice president John L. McGoldrick, who explained that Yale and the drug company also agreed to make the patent available at no cost to treat AIDS in South Africa.
“I’m very, very happy about this decision,” says William Prusoff, the 80-year-old Yale pharmacologist who codiscovered the drug’s anti-HIV properties in the mid 1980s and expresses no regrets about any potential loss of personal income from the new arrangement. “I hope other pharmaceutical companies follow suit,” he says.
Professor Has Tenure Revoked
President Richard Levin announced in March that he is revoking the tenure of geology and geophysics professor Antonio Lasaga and terminating Lasaga’s employment at Yale. But the Yale Corporation will have the last word on the subject.
Levin said he was acting on the recommendation of a University Tribunal Panel chaired by chemistry professor Sidney Altman. Lasaga has been on leave since 1998, when he was arrested for sexual assault and possession of child pornography. He pleaded guilty to the federal pornography charges; the Connecticut charges that he molested a 13-year-old boy are still pending.
Lasaga has informed Levin that he will appeal the decision on his status to the Yale Corporation. The tribunal—and a faculty member’s right to appeal its recommendation—are part of a process created in 1969 to deal with serious misconduct. The five-member, University-wide tribunal had never met before the Lasaga case.
Lasaga’s sentencing in the pornography case is being delayed while the judge entertains a request by Lasaga’s lawyers to drop one of the charges. The judge is waiting to see how an appeals court rules on a similar case before making his decision. If the charge is not dropped, the former Saybrook College master could face up to 15 years in prison.
An Old Gallery Regains Its Roots
In July 1999, the University Art Gallery’s popular collections of American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts went behind closed doors. But when the third-floor galleries of Americana reopened on March 24, viewers were treated to more than a handsome renovation and a reconfiguration of familiar images and objects from the 18th century to the present.
“We’ve returned the building to a sense of its original grandeur,” says Helen Cooper, the Holcombe T. Green Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture. The “Old Art Gallery,” as the structure, completed in 1928, is known, was designed by architect Edgerton Swartwout, Class of 1891. Swartwout modeled it after a Gothic palace in Viterbo, Italy, and he outfitted the space with columns, graceful wall and ceiling arches called pendentives, and dramatic skylights. But over the years, many of the details had either been hidden behind false walls or deliberately obscured under coats of paint.
The result of the renovation effort, which was funded by the University and by private donors, is an open and airy main gallery off which are arranged a series of rooms that display, period by period, the holdings of the Mabel Brady Garvan Collection. In a landmark 1973 installation by art historian Charles Montgomery, the furniture, sterling silver, and other material had been grouped together in a way that mirrored his course in the American decorative arts. “Scholarship has changed since then, and we’re now looking at regions of the country besides those on the Atlantic seacoast,” explains Patricia Kane, the Art Gallery’s decorative arts curator. “The new arrangement accords with the way a survey course would now be taught.”
The transformed building also includes the “Matrix” gallery—a space for small exhibitions (the current one highlights the design work of Yale alumni)—and a refurbished Trumbull gallery in which the red walls and green upholstered furniture match the colors of the original space that opened in 1832. Visitors are no longer charged 25 cents to view the paintings displayed in the nation’s first university art museum, but, as a broadside advertising the Trumbull collection notes, they are still asked to leave their whips at the door.
Yale, Playwright Bury the Hatchet
Four years ago, the only thing Yale seemed likely to get from Larry Kramer '57 was his contempt. Negotiations over a bequest by Kramer to the University had broken down, and he publicly accused Yale of homophobia. But just last month, the University announced that Kramer had agreed to give his papers to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and that his brother, Arthur Kramer '49, ‘53LLB, is giving $1 million for a Larry Kramer Initiative for Lesbian and Gay Studies.
Kramer’s 1985 play The Normal Heart is considered a classic, and he has also written screenplays, novels, and essays. In addition to his writing, Kramer founded the advocacy groups Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). Provost Alison Richard said Yale is “thrilled” to house the papers of “one of the most creative, catalytic, and controversial figured of late-20th- century American life.” The gift from Arthur Kramer will support research and teaching in lesbian and gay studies.
Earlier talks between Yale and Kramer had centered on a bequest in the range of $4 million, with which Kramer wanted the University to create endowed professorships in lesbian and gay studies. Yale balked, arguing that the field was too new to justify such a permanent commitment, and Kramer withdrew the offer.
But in the intervening years, Kramer says, people associated with Yale have convinced him that Yale is committed to lesbian and gay studies. Kramer says that he still may put Yale in his will. “He’s taking a wait-and-see attitude, and that wait-and-see has to do with how Yale handles this initiative,” says Marianne LaFrance, a professor of women and gender studies.
Lest anyone think the University has forgotten its debt to Elihu Yale, some 250 singing alumni and their guests will spend the Fourth of July in Wrexham, Wales, paying tribute to the College benefactor who is buried there. The Wrexham event is one stop on a 16-day tour by the Yale Alumni Chorus.
After visiting Russia, where they will perform with the Marinsky Orchestra in St. Petersburg and the Moscow Chamber Orchestra in Moscow, the chorus will open the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales on July 3. The next day, the delegation will take part in a memorial service for Elihu Yale at St. Giles’s Church in Wrexham, after which they will host an American-style “Interdependence Day” picnic for Wrexham residents. The chorus will finish the tour with a July 6 performance at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Alumni Chorus, a group of Glee Club alumni, was formed in 1998 for a tour of China, where the group won first prize at the International Chorus Festival in Beijing. With singers from the Class of 1936 to the Class of 1999, the group includes a men’s chorus consisting of singers from Yale’s all-male days, a mixed chorus of post-1970 alumni, and a large combined chorus that includes spouses and guests. The groups are conducted by David Connell '91DMA, director of the Glee Club.
Senator Clinton For Class Day
The undergraduates who are charged with finding a speaker for Class Day have an unenviable job: finding a suitably prominent person who is willing to speak for free—without the lure of an honorary degree—and who meets with the approval of a class with as many opinions as mortar boards. This year’s committee met the first criterion in its selection of Hillary Rodham Clinton '73JD. In March, the New York senator and former first lady accepted the committee’s invitation to speak at the traditional pre-Commencement event for seniors and their families on May 20. But a small group of conservative students is circulating a petition urging the committee to change its mind; the signers say that they will boycott her address.
Petition organizer Daniel Mindus '01, who writes for the Yale Free Press, a conservative student monthly, says his objection is that the choice of Clinton is divisive. “The Class Day speaker should be someone who doesn’t engender the ire of approximately 20 percent of the graduating class,” says Mindus, who adds that he would oppose the selection of conservative U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft '64 for the same reason.
Class Day co-chair Addisu Demissie '01 says regardless of the petition, “the probability is virtually zero that the speaker will be changed. We went into this knowing we couldn’t please everyone, but I feel like we have at least pleased the majority.”
Yale Spouse to Lead Harvard
After a search process that drew national attention, Harvard University announced in March that its new president will be Lawrence Summers, an economist and former U.S. secretary of the treasury. While Summers received his undergraduate degree from MIT and his doctorate from Harvard, there will be an Eli presence in the president’s house when he takes office in the summer: His wife, Victoria Perry Summers, got her B.A. from Yale College in 1978. (Her Cantabridgian credentials are sufficient, too, however: She got her law degree from Harvard in 1982.) Ms. Summers, a tax attorney, has worked for the International Monetary Fund for the past eight years.
But Ms. Summers is not the only connection the Harvard president has to Yale. He was born in New Haven in 1954, when his father was teaching economics at the University.
Web Surfing in the Sunshine
Students, faculty, and administrators split between a desire to soak up the springtime sun and a need to access files on the Internet are now able to practice a new kind of multitasking. Thanks to a donation by Norman Selby ’74 and Melissa Vail ’74, the University is creating wireless access to the campus network system in a variety of locations, including the dining halls, courtyards, and other public gathering places in Berkeley and Calhoun colleges, as well as in the Sterling and Cross Campus libraries, the computer science and engineering departments, and, for sun worshippers, on the Cross Campus lawn.
“The idea is to provide coverage where a wired connection is not possible,” says Joseph Paolillo, the director of data network operations, the division of Yale’s information technology services department overseeing the project, which started in January and may run through the fall semester.
Paolillo explains that while wireless access has been technically feasible for a number of years, the slow speed and unreliability of the connections, to say nothing of the expense of the hardware, has limited its appeal. But in the past 12 to 18 months, rapid improvements in technology have made this method of linking to the campus network via radio waves similar in quality to its wired counterpart. The cost has dropped as well: The add-on “card” required to retrofit a laptop can be had for as little as $100, and many of the newer laptop models already come equipped for sending and receiving data through wireless connections.
The donation from Selby and Vail covers both the smoke detector-sized transmitters and up to 300 cards that can be borrowed for the semester by Berkeley and Calhoun students and faculty. To date, there have been about 100 participants in the pilot.
“Based on what we’ve seen, there’s a strong wish to want to be connected, even when people are not at their desks or in their rooms,” says Paolillo. “The demand for this is potentially explosive.”
Women’s Lacrosse Shines on New Turf
The spring in the step of Bulldog women’s lacrosse players of late is not just from the artificial turf of their new field (though that hasn’t hurt). In its 25th anniversary season, Yale’s team went undefeated for its first eight games. Most impressive, on March 24 the team—then ranked 15th nationally—upset No. 12 Dartmouth for the first time in ten years, giving coach Amanda O'Leary her first win against the Big Green. A week later, they eked out a 10–9 win over Harvard in Cambridge with a last-second goal by Katherine Myers ’01, moving the team up to eighth in the national rankings.
O'Leary attributes the team’s success to the presence of five seniors on the 12-woman starting lineup. “They’re great leaders, and they lead in different ways,” says O'Leary. “Some are vocal, and some lead by example. I don’t think I’ve had such a cohesive group in the time I’ve been here.”
And O'Leary has had her share of success in her eight years at Yale: She has never had a losing season, and her worst season record was a more than respectable 10-5. But just as they had never beaten Dartmouth, none of O'Leary’s teams has ever won an Ivy championship, a title that confers an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs. This year could be the one, but the Bulldogs were going to have to get past Princeton (third in the nation) and Cornell (14th).
Lacrosse is a growing sport. While it is still predominantly an East Coast phenomenon, it has spread from the fields of private prep schools to suburban public schools: Half of this year’s Yale squad went to public schools.
Recruiting those players will be easier, says O'Leary, thanks to Yale’s new Johnson Field, a 750-seat stadium with artifical turf that will be used by the lacrosse and field hockey teams. Unlike grass, the surface can be used for practice even in winter, which means the team has been able to practice outdoors since February 1; in past years, they would have practiced in Coxe Cage until spring. O'Leary says practicing outside helps prepare the team better for game conditions. Also, she says, artificial turf makes for “a much faster and cleaner game, because the ball bounces more, and more predictably than on grass.” The surface is well suited to Yale’s style of play, she adds: “I’m not sure we'd be ninth in the country without the new field.”
From the Collections
The School of Drama’s library is best known for its volumes of plays and its collections of theatrical prints and photographs, but it is also home to three shadow puppets used in the centuries-old Javanese theatrical form known as wayang.
Belligerent turkeys aren’t usually among the risks associated with academic life, but denizens of the Graduate School had to give this creature a wide berth when he turned up in the School’s courtyard one afternoon. He is said to live with a mate in the comparatively tranquil Grove Street Cemetery.
Mom was right: Eat your oatmeal. A study by School of Medicine researchers shows that while eating a high-fat meal can cause measurable constriction in the arteries, eating oatmeal or taking vitamin E can counteract the effect. Wheat cereal did not have the same benefits in the experiment, which was performed by David Katz, M.D., and a team of researchers.
Crime in New Haven fell by 21 percent last year, the steepest drop in a ten-year period that has seen the number of reported incidents cut in half. Police chief Melvin Wearing credits his department’s community policing program and the establishment of neighborhood police substations for the decline.
Amid the Tercentennial hoopla, one Connecticut town has let it be known that it’s feeling left out. Town leaders in Old Saybrook complained to the New Haven Register in March that the University had not yet planned any events in their town, which was Yale’s first permanent home. The Tercentennial Office says it is now planning a Saybrook event for the fall.
School of Drama dean Stan Wojewodski Jr. will stay on for another year to give the University more time to find a new dean. While it was rumored that Oskar Eustis, director of Providence’s Trinity Repertory Company, would take the job, he turned it down in January.
One of Yale’s historic houses is on its way to Westchester County. The University offered the Civil War-era Kingsley-Blake House at 88 Trumbull and $75,000 to anyone willing to move it off its current site. The Briarcliff Manor–Scarborough Historical Society will use the house as a museum.
Freshman fencer Sada Jacobson won the NCAA individual championship in March, the first Yale fencer to do so since 1982. After a season without losing a match, she went 22–1 in the championship tournament. The Yale team placed ninth at the national tournament.
The season ended on a low note for the men’s hockey team, as the Bulldogs lost two in a row to Harvard in the first round of the ECAC playoffs. Senior and all-time leading scorer Jeff Hamilton was chosen as the Ivy League player of the year and as a first-team All-American. He is the first Yale player to make the All-America team three times.
The gymnastics team won its first-ever ECAC championship at Cornell in March, narrowly defeating William and Mary. The team barely missed qualifying for the NCAA regionals, but three Yale gymnasts qualified to compete in the tournament as individuals.
Before starting its tough Ivy season in April, the men’s tennis team posted a record of 13–1, including big wins over Army and the University of New Mexico. The women’s team stood at 6–4 at the start of Ivy play.
For information on Tercentennial events, call (203) 432-0300 or go to yale.edu/
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