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If you think your “in” box is full, you should see the one at the Online Computer Library Center in Dublin, Ohio. The nonprofit concern just took delivery of Yale’s 15.9-ton, 6,000-drawer library card catalog. Over the next three years, employees at OCLC will work from A to Z entering some two million records into the University’s Orbis online catalog.
Orbis already contains about four million records, mostly of books and other library materials acquired since the mid-1970s, when Yale began keeping electronic records. But the new initiative is the first comprehensive attempt at “retrospective conversion” of older materials. When it is complete, all of the Library’s 10.1 million volumes will be catalogued online.
Some 30 employees at OCLC will go through the catalog cards, checking first to see if they are in Orbis already; if not, they will either create a new electronic entry or find an existing one from OCLC’s database. “We will systematically look at a percentage of the cards that come back for quality assurance,” says catalog management librarian Martha Conway. The library staff is also doing some of the conversion work in-house, mainly of records in languages with non-Roman characters, such as Cyrillic or Arabic.
And what will become of the card catalog that has long filled the nave of Sterling Memorial Library? University Librarian Scott Bennett says the catalog will stay put until the conversion is complete. After that, it may move out of the nave, but it will still be available to those who prefer to browse by the card, rather than the screen.
A Millennium of Art in a New Light
In September, just a few months after the Center for British Art reopened its overhauled, Louis Kahn–designed building (Yale Alumni Magazine, Apr.), the Art Gallery unveiled its reconfigured collection of European and contemporary art. And as at the BAC, it is now possible to appreciate both the art and Kahn’s architecture far more than before.
The rearrangement at the Art Gallery (the contents of the second and third floors were swapped) was undertaken ostensibly to create a more sensible chronological procession from ancient art on the ground floor to contemporary art, now on the third. But the Gallery staff took the opportunity to rethink what items should be on display and how they should be presented. Partitions were rearranged to create a more fluid, less static space and to reveal windows that had long been covered. Several pieces of sculpture were brought up from storage and from the sculpture hall to stand alongside contemporaneous paintings. And in order to keep the galleries' heavy concrete ceilings from dominating, the walls were painted in deep blues and grays.
The galleries include works spanning the years from 950 to 1985 and feature Yale’s notable collections of early Italian, Impressionist, and modern art. While some of the 300 works on the two floors have been in storage, most have been on display for years. But the new surroundings have led visitors to view old works in new ways. Says acting curator of European and contemporary art Joanna Weber, who oversaw the installation: “Even the curators will walk by something that’s always been on display and say ‘I’ve never seen that before.’”
Turning Brain Cells On and Off
In neurobiology, one bedrock assumption is that after adolescence, new nerve cells do not form in the brain’s cerebral cortex, the center of thought and memory. But research reported in the October 25 issue of the journal Science by Pasko Rakic, the Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Neuroscience, and his colleagues calls into question the dogma that, ironically enough, Rakic’s earlier work helped to establish. The work also has an exciting potential payoff: a strategy to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and encourage the healing of spinal cord injuries.
Working with cells from the brains of mice, the scientists discovered a kind of “on-off” switch that appears to be critical in the establishment of long-term memories. In young children, the so-called “Notch signaling system” is in the “on” position, Rakic explains, and new nerve cells are continually growing and establishing new connections with one another. Beginning in adolescence, however, the switch is gradually turned off. The result is a brain that is not so nimble at learning new tasks such as languages and computer skills, but one in which the entrenched and unchanging connections allow long-term memories to form.
Rakic and his coworkers figured out a way to turn the Notch system back on and cause dormant neurons to begin growing again. This may prove useful if scientists can determine how to channel such growth, but researchers have also suggested that the untimely turning on of the Notch switch, which may occur in the early phases of Alzheimer’s disease, could actually be detrimental because it would disrupt the established connections and result in memory loss. By better understanding the role the Notch system plays, it may prove possible to prevent it from functioning at the wrong phase of life, says Rakic.
A Farewell Toast to Quality Wine
Yale’s University Properties office has long said that a goal of its redevelopment of the Broadway retail area is to strengthen the established local businesses in the district (Yale Alumni Magazine, Feb.). But Elliot Brause of Quality Wine Shop is no longer a believer. After 65 years, Brause closed his store on October 30 after protracted negotiations with University Properties over a new lease broke down.
Brause’s longtime location, a Yale-owned building at 35 Broadway, is one of five storefronts being demolished to make way for more modern retail space. Yale proposed to relocate Quality Wine to a smaller storefront on York Street. But the University would offer only a five-year lease, which Brause says is too short a commitment given the money he would have to spend to outfit the new store.
Joseph Fahey of University Properties says his office was generous in its negotiations, offering a below-market rent rate and forgiveness of some $15,000 in back rent on the current location.
Gift is Music to School’s Ears
The School of Music just gained a new advantage in the competition for the best students and musicians. Last spring, businessman Stephen Adams '59 boosted his class’s 40th reunion gift with a $10-million contribution to the School, the largest in its 108-year history.
The gift will be used to fund the Adams Family Foundation Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will provide financial aid for students in the School. President Levin said that financial aid is “a major factor in ensuring our ability to attract and retain the finest students from throughout the world.”
Dean Robert Blocker said that although the Adams family has no formal connection to the School, Adams has “a great interest in the arts, and music specifically.”
New Data on Cancer Recurrence
When the diagnosis is breast cancer, a woman is confronted with difficult treatment choices. If the tumor is dis- covered early enough, most patients now opt for lumpectomy followed by radiation rather than mastectomy (removal of the entire breast), but for certain women, a recent study led by a Yale radiologist is calling that strategy into question.
In the October issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Bruce Haffty, an associate professor of clinical radiology at the School of Medicine, and his colleagues describe research that examines new occurrences of breast tumors in 52 women who had undergone lumpectomies at Yale–New Haven Hospital between 1973 and 1994. While the patients shared no single trait that would enable doctors to predict who was likely to develop cancer again, Haffty discovered an ominous recurrent theme in a small subset of the group. Forty percent of those women who were under the age of 40 had mutations in either of a pair of genes known as BRCA1 or BRCA2.
“These are thought to be tumor suppression genes,” says Haffty. “Women with the mutation are at increased risk for both breast and ovarian cancer.”
Haffty’s research demonstrates that such women, even after successful treatment, also appear to be at elevated risk for a recurrence of the disease. (The women, whose new tumors appeared on average 7.8 years after the initial surgery, underwent mastectomies.) The scientist is currently at work on a larger study aimed at corroborating the initial findings. If these are upheld, there could be changes in therapy, such as favoring mastectomy over lumpectomy and prescribing tumor-suppressing drugs to women who carry the mutant gene. “This information may be helpful in making treatment decisions,” says Haffty.
New Thanks Given for Long-Ago Gift
In October, Yale remembered the philanthropy of Mary Goodman, a 19th-century New Haven washerwoman, by dedicating a new monument to her at Grove Street Cemetery.
Goodman, who was African American, left two pieces of property to Yale when she died in 1872. Yale sold the real estate for $5,000 and used the money, in accordance with Goodman’s bequest, “to educate men of her own color in Yale College for the Gospel ministry.” The Goodman Scholarship is still presented annually by the Divinity School.
Yale honored Goodman with a space in the University plot at Grove Street. But a year ago, her tombstone—along with many others—was damaged by vandals. The new monument was unveiled on October 24.
Startup 101: A Club for Budding Tycoons
When Sean Glass decided to return to Yale for his sophomore year this fall, it wasn’t an easy decision. Glass had an idea for an Internet startup company, and it was hard to put his plans on hold. Instead of starting a business, he and a like-minded student, Miles Lasater '00, started the Yale College Entrepreneurial Society (YES) to support students who are interested in starting businesses.
Already, YES has more than 70 members. Their agenda includes a series of talks by alumni, educational sessions, internships, and a student business plan competition. The club’s popularity demonstrates that the idea of working for one’s self is becoming a popular alternative to more traditional employment avenues. “The power in society has shifted,” says Lasater. “Business is now the institution that really matters.”
The Yale Corporation got a change of scenery in October when it held its monthly meeting at Stanford University, the alma mater of President Richard Levin. Corporation Fellows heard presentations by Stanford officials during the two-day meeting, which was inspired by a similar visit of Dartmouth trustees to Yale three years ago.
Dieting alone isn’t usually enough to combat the “middle-age spread,” says Epidemiology and Public Health professor Loretta DiPietro. Exercise is necessary to minimize the weight gain that occurs between the ages of 40 and 60. In a study of more than 5,000 middle-aged men and women, DiPietro found a link between improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness and a slower rate of weight gain.
An all-star roster of Yale professors will take turns at the lectern for the Tercentennial year DeVane Lectures. While the DeVane Lectures are commonly given by one person, Law School dean Anthony Kronman is coordinating a series called “Democratic Vistas” for the spring of 2001. The lecturers will include President Levin, Yale College dean Richard Brodhead, computer science professor David Gelernter, and history professors John Gaddis and Nancy Cott.
Licensees who produce clothing with Yale’s name or insignia must now disclose publicly where the clothes are made. The new policy, similar to those at Brown, Cornell, and Princeton, fulfills one of three requests of the University in a petition organized by Yale Students Against Sweatshops and signed by 1,700 students. The University maintains that the students' other concerns—a living wage for workers and independent monitoring of factory conditions—are addressed by the Fair Labor Association, of which Yale is a member.
In a first for a Yale president, Richard Levin received the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership Award at a breakfast on November 3. “Rick has seen what is possible and has chosen to act,” said Mayor John DeStefano Jr. “It has enhanced the reputation of his institution within the community.” The Chamber has presented the award annually since 1966.
Women’s cross country coach Mark Young ’68 has a lot to look forward to. Next summer, he will travel to Australia as one of five assistant coaches for the U.S. Olympic women’s track team. Closer to home, Young is looking at an unusual concentration of talent in his freshman class, raising expectations for the coming years. It is not the first taste of success for Young, a former track standout at Yale who came to his post in 1980 from a very different career as an assistant attorney general in Massachusetts. Young had three teams ranked in the top ten nationally in the late 1980s, and was NCAA coach of the year in 1987. But such achievements are rare for an Ivy League school, he says. “There was a degree of serendipity involved,” he says. “It’s very difficult to compete nationally, since we’re non-scholarship. We can’t expect it to happen regularly.” A more realistic goal is to place high at the Heptagonal Championships, a nine-team meet that includes the eight Ivies and Navy. This year, after strong showings early in the fall season—including a win in the annual meet with Harvard and Princeton—the women finished a disappointing seventh at the Heptagonals. But Young has cause for optimism. “Four of our top six or seven runners are freshmen,” he says. “I think we’ll be really good next year.” Among those freshmen are Kate and Laura O'Neill, twin sisters from Massachusetts who have regularly been at the front of the Yale team this fall. Young says that in addition to their consistent performance, the pair has had a positive impact on the team. “Because they ran together in high school, they have a comfort zone together,” he says. “And that has helped ease other people’s anxieties. Their relationship has a settling effect on the rest of the team.” Young, who has coached at the World University Games, the U.S. Olympic Festival, and other sub-Olympic venues, says Olympic coaching is very different from his collegiate work. “Those people have individual coaches,” he explains. “I end up being more a facilitator, and try to make everything as easy for those athletes as I can.” In addition to the honor of being asked to coach, Young is looking forward to the trip. “Australia is a place I’ve always wanted to go,” he says, before adding with a smile, “I just hope I’ll be able to speak the language.”
The men’s hockey team started their season without captain Jeff Hamilton ’00 and four other seniors, who were suspended by the NCAA. The five played in an amateur recreational tournament last spring before the academic year was over, thus violating NCAA rules. Hamilton had to sit out five games, while the others were penalized for one or two games each. The depleted team lost its opener at No. 6 Michigan 3–2 but beat No. 7 New Hampshire 5–1.
The lightweight crew’s varsity eight placed third (behind the U.S. and Canadian national teams) at the Head of the Charles on October 24. The freshman eight finished second behind Harvard, and the heavyweight eight finished eighth. The women’s eight was 22nd, and the women’s freshman eight placed ninth.
An immortal moment for women’s sport—the day in 1976 when 19 women rowers stripped in an administrator’s office to protest the lack of women’s showers at the boathouse—is the subject of a new documentary by Olympic rower Mary Mazzio. The film, A Hero for Daisy, premiered at the Boston Film Festival in September. (Daisy is Mazzio’s young daughter; crew captain Chris Ernst ’76 is the “hero.”)
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