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A Trans-Atlantic Link for Online Courses

Yale, Oxford, Princeton, and Stanford universities announced in September that they have each invested $3 million in an alliance to provide online courses and other distance education tools to their alumni. The new nonprofit venture, known as the University Alliance for Lifelong Learning, hopes to offer not-for-credit courses to the schools’ 500,000 combined alumni by the latter part of next year.

Former Merrill Lynch & Co. president Herbert M. Allison Jr. '65 has been named president and CEO of the Alliance. President Richard Levin will chair its board of directors, which includes representatives from each university. Besides Levin, the directors include Priceline.com chief financial officer Heidi Miller '79PhD and venture capitalist G. Leonard Baker '64, who recently joined the Yale Corporation.

The members of the new alliance will spend the fall and winter determining the content and method of delivery for the courses. “Our offerings will be shaped by our alumni, whom we’ll want to be involved early on,” says Allison. Faculty, too, will be consulted about how to best structure the material, he says. “We want to intrude on their time as little as possible while still creating worthwhile courses for the alumni.”

The Association of Yale Alumni has been working on a pilot online learning program over the past year, and AYA president Jeffrey Brenzel '75 says the lessons learned from that experience and from similar programs at the other universities will be incorporated into the Alliance’s work. Levin expects the Alliance to “play an important role in setting the standard for distance education in the arts and sciences. By cooperating, we believe we can contribute far more than could any one institution alone.”


Branford Moves In With Much Undone

Branford College students anticipating their return from exile in the “swing dorm” got an unpleasant surprise as the school year began: The student rooms in the newly renovated college were ready to be occupied, but work on most of the public spaces—including the dining hall, common room, library, and master’s house—was not to be completed until well into the fall term. A small makeshift kitchen and dining tent in the college’s courtyard allowed students to have continental breakfasts and occasional dinners together, but students transferred to other colleges for most of their meals.

The renovation of Branford began in the summer of 1999 and was scheduled to be done before students returned. While unforeseen construction problems and labor shortages contributed to the delay, University officials said the contractor, Barclay White, Inc., was also responsible. “Even acknowledging the problems they ran into, we were not satisfied with their performance,” says Arch Currie, director of project management in the Office of Facilities. But Barclay White president Edwin Jorden says the delays were inevitable, especially given changes Yale made late in the process. “Everyone involved has responsibility,” says Jorden, “but to point the finger at Barclay White is not fair.”

Because of the delays, the University scrapped its plans to award Barclay White the contract for the renovations of adjacent Saybrook College—actually the second phase of what was conceived as a single $100 million project. Instead, the Saybrook phase has been provisionally awarded to Fusco Management Company, the New Haven contractor that built Yale’s swing dorm and the Lanman Center at Payne Whitney Gymnasium. Currie says that the Saybrook renovations have been set back by the change in contractors, but that Fusco took the job with the understanding that it is to be completed by the end of next summer.


A Semi-Good Word for Tobacco

Most schizophrenics are heavy smokers, and in recent studies, Tony P. George M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry, has shown both why they are so addicted to tobacco and how to help them break the habit. “Schizophrenics often say that smoking helps them be more alert and deal with stress,” says George. “Our findings support the idea that they might be using nicotine for self-medication.”

In the July issue of the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, George and his colleagues at Yale and at the Connecticut Mental Health Center reported on an experiment in which rats were subjected to electric shocks to their feet, a regimen thought to mimic the conditions prevailing in the human brain during stress. “The typical response is that the animals freeze, just as we do when we hear a car backfire,” says George.

The freezing is caused by shock-induced changes in the regulation of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that in part governs movement, but when the researchers gave the rats nicotine, “they froze less.” Dopamine, working in concert with brain chemicals called endogenous opioids, is also involved in cognition, and when George gave the rats naloxone, a substance that blocks opioids, the animals performed less well. “We found that nicotine can have cognitive enhancing effects,” said the scientist.

Although smoking may help schizophrenics feel sharper mentally, the cigarette habit is nonetheless deadly. However, in a paper in the November issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, George and his colleagues turned their newfound understanding of brain biology into a more effective strategy for smoking cessation. Several newly developed antischizophrenic drugs work by providing better regulation of the dopamine systems, and when these medications were used in combination with nicotine patches in a study involving 45 patients with schizophrenia and nicotine dependence, “the drugs seemed to compensate for the effect nicotine had been having,” said George. “They quit smoking at nearly three times the expected rate.”


An Online Home For Anxious Frosh

The summer before freshman year can be a time of anxiety, as students—many of whom do not know anyone at Yale—face questions about courses, socializing, and the logistics of dorm life. Brad Rosen '04 of Rockaway, New Jersey, was just such a student.

Not content to wait until September, Rosen took the initiative and created www.yalies2004.com, a Web site that helped freshmen get to know each other and answer questions about Yale.

The site, unaffiliated with Yale and hosted by the consumer server Tripod, quickly became a hit this summer, thanks to what Rosen calls “wicked word of mouth.” Starting with five e-mail addresses he collected at Bulldog Days, a spring event for admitted students, Rosen spread the word and ended up with a quarter of the class registered at his site.

On the site’s discussion groups, entering freshmen asked for help with questions such as which English class to take and whether to bring a bicycle. Students also used the site to chat with their suitemates and students with like interests.

Rosen thinks the success of his site indicates a need that Yale would be wise to fill. “Yale inundates freshmen with so many different forms from different departments,” says Rosen. “The site helped sort out questions. It made freshman year a less scary experience.”


“Regret” Over Seized Magazines

After rejecting three formal complaints related to the removal of copies of the conservative publication Light & Truth from freshman mailboxes a year ago (“Light & Verity,” Sum.), Yale College dean Richard Brodhead addressed the matter in a letter to the Yale Daily News in September, expressing his regret over the incident.

The editors of the magazine filed complaints in the spring against three University officials—Ezra Stiles dean Susan Rieger, assistant dean of student affairs Edgar Letriz-Núñez, and deputy director of public affairs Thomas Conroy—over their alleged roles in the matter. Brodhead said the complaints against the deans were “ineligible for consideration” because of a rule that grievances must be brought within 45 days of an incident. (Conroy, whom the editors said made misleading statements to the media about the affair, is not subject to the dean’s disciplinary system.) But the Light & Truth editors say Letriz-Núñez discouraged them from making such a complaint, assuring them they would be allowed to send their fall “Survival Guide” issue to freshmen over the summer. Letriz-Núñez says the idea was discussed but that no promises were made. The editors had also charged that Rieger threatened them when they complained about the incident, telling them “Don’t forget, I write recommendations,” a charge Rieger denies.

Brodhead wrote in the letter that the counselors removed the magazines in accordance with a policy designed to “restrict student organizations from contacting and soliciting freshmen during the first few days after their arrival.” He blamed “confusion” among counselors about this policy for the episode. “However much it may have resulted from a misunderstanding,” Brodhead wrote, “the removal of Light & Truth without making another arrangement for its distribution was a violation of University principle. As the person ultimately responsible for the administration of Yale College, I express my regret to the editors of Light & Truth and to the community for this occurrence.”

In an op-ed article in the next day’s News, Light & Truth editor Justin Zaremby '03 said that the Dean’s ruling on the complaints had been appealed to the Yale Corporation. Zaremby also stood by the magazine’s allegations about Rieger and Letriz-Núñez.


Co-op’s Partner Calls It Quits

After surviving the loss of its quasi-official status to Barnes & Noble three years ago and a subsequent move to the Chapel Square Mall, the Yale Co-op took another blow this fall when Wallace’s Bookstores, Inc., the Lexington, Kentucky retailer that had agreed to manage the Co-op in 1998, backed out of the deal, leaving the 112-year-old member-owned cooperative.without a partner and with an uncertain future.

Wallace’s vice president Tim Prather said the Co-op’s “financial deterioration” (it is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy) was the reason for the company’s decision. But Matthew Nemerson '81MPPM, president of the nonprofit group that owns the Chapel Square Mall, says that Wallace’s didn’t follow through with their marketing plan, which called for the Co-op to become a “crossover store” serving both Yale students and downtown workers. “It ended up being Yale bookstore Lite,” says Nemerson.

The store was scheduled to close on October 31 unless a new management plan was approved by a creditors’ committee and the bankruptcy court before that date. Mike Thompson, president of the Co-op board of directors, said that the store’s staff was preparing a proposal under which the store would be managed by its employees. The board was also expecting proposals from vendors to operate the Co-op’s medical branch on York Street.


Sophomores See the City Up Close

Orientation isn’t just for freshmen anymore. After a year of getting comfortable with their “home base” of Yale, a small number of returning sophomores now take advantage of a weeklong Dwight Hall program called FOCUS that is designed to broaden students’ perspectives as residents of New Haven.

“We want students to get excited about New Haven,” said Alice Ricks '01, who coordinates the program along with Deirdre Lehn '01 and Quinnie Tan '01. Sponsored by the Office of New Haven and State Affairs, FOCUS was held this year from August 25–31, with 65 sophomores and 24 upperclassmen leaders participating. The sophomores toured neighborhoods far from Yale’s shadow and heard local leaders discuss issues such as homelessness and education. They volunteered for a one–day cleanup event along the West River and performed physical labor for nonprofit organizations.

“In choosing projects,” said Ricks, “our primary goal is to find agencies that need us to provide useful work.” This year, the students’ tasks ranged from painting murals to clearing land for community gardens.

The program lasts only a week, but students say its benefits are long-term. Some take away an increased interest in activism or community service, while others are pleased simply to learn how to use public transportation. “Overall,” Tan said, “I think it’s fair to say that everyone leaves FOCUS liking New Haven better.”


Football Team Wins Number 800 (and 801)

While Yale’s recent success in the small pond of Ivy League football has been satisfying, one seldom sees nationwide superlatives applied to the Bulldogs anymore. But in this year’s opening game against the University of Dayton, Yale earned national attention by doing something no other college team had ever done: It recorded its 800th win, 128 years after its first (against Columbia) and just two weeks ahead of Michigan. Immediately after the win, the game ball was sent to the College Football Hall of Fame, where it is on display accompanied by a plaque with the names of all the Yale players in the game.

The 42–6 win over Dayton at the Bowl was more than a historic milestone, though. While Dayton was not expected to be a strong opponent, the Bulldogs had an outstanding day on offense. Going into the season, the biggest question mark in the otherwise experienced Yale offense was quarterback Peter Lee, a junior transfer from Wisconsin who must fill the shoes of Joe Walland ’00. Lee performed well, completing 19 of 23 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. For his part, senior running back Rashad Bartholomew rushed for 201 yards on 23 carries and scored three touchdowns.

The convincing win over Dayton was followed the next week by a heartbreaking last-minute loss to Cornell in Ithaca. With two minutes remaining in the closely fought game, the Big Red scored a touchdown to go ahead 24–23. Yale answered with a swift 65-yard drive into Cornell territory, setting up a 32-yard field goal try with two seconds left on the clock. But the attempt by the usually sure-footed kicker Mike Murawczyk '01 was inches to the left. Bartholomew had another strong day, though, rushing for 180 yards and becoming the eighth Eli to rush for more than 2,000 career yards. Back at the Bowl on September 30, the Bulldogs scored a 33–27 victory against non-Ivy opponent Holy Cross, but not before the Crusaders threatened what had seemed like a comfortable 19-point halftime lead.

While Yale may continue to lead the nation in number of victories for a bit longer, it is unlikely the Bulldogs will be the first to hit 900. Michigan plays 11 games a year (12 if they make a bowl appearance) compared to Yale’s 10. But the milestone that matters to this year’s Bulldogs is another Ivy championship, which will be a challenge after the loss to Cornell, the team picked in preseason polling along with Yale to win the title.  the end






Gone but not forgotten: Among the thousands of stones cleaned as part of the Branford College renovation are these four, taken from buildings that were demolished to make room for the Memorial Quadrangle in 1917.





From the Collections

A Pre-Columbian precursor of The Game? Maybe, but the losing team in the Meso-American ball game shown in this 2,000-year-old pottery piece suffered a fate even worse than the loss of Ivy League bragging rights: In some areas, they were sacrificed to the earth goddess. The sculpture is on display at the Art Gallery.




Campus Clips

The University got two pieces of good news on the financial front in September. Yale’s endowment grew 40 percent to roughly $10 billion, dramatically outperforming the market thanks to an emphasis on private venture capital, and the development office reported a record $358 million in total cash gifts last year.

The big Yale winner in the Olympics was School of Management professor Meghan Busse, who predicted exactly how many medals the United States would win at Sydney, and overall predicted with 96 percent accuracy how many medals each country would take home. Busse and a colleague at Dartmouth used data on each country’s wealth, population, and past Olympic performance to make their predictions.

A record $27 million malpractice award against Yale–New Haven Hospital (“Light & Verity,” May 1999) was upheld by a Connecticut Superior Court judge in late September. Lawyers for the hospital had sought to have the verdict overturned. The judgment involved the case of William Jacobs, whose open heart surgery in 1986 left him blind and wheelchair-bound after doctors, according to the suit, damaged his aorta.

Look no longer to Mory’s to defend traditional sartorial standards. Like many white-shoe law firms and investment banks, the Temple Bar recently dropped its requirement that men wear jackets and ties at the dinner hour. The club still requires collared shirts and prohibits denim. Clinging to a vestige of civility, the newsletter also says, “men’s hats and caps must be removed in the Clubhouse.”

Former New York mayor John Lindsay ’44, ’8LLB has been honored by the Law School with the creation of the Lindsay Public Service Fellowship, which will provide stipends to pay part of the salaries of recipients who work in public service or nonprofit jobs. The first recipient is Stefan Pryor ’93, ’98JD, executive director of Breakthrough for Learning in New York and a cofounder of New Haven’s Amistad Academy (“Light & Verity,” Oct. 1999).




Sports Shorts

The volleyball team got off to a strong start this season, winning 10 of its first 13 games before embarking on its Ivy League schedule. The team also won three straight tournaments in September.

Yale Field’s own New Haven Ravens, a Double-A minor-league baseball team, won its first Eastern League championship this year in a series against the Reading Phillies. The team will have a new major-league affiliate next year, as the St. Louis Cardinals take over from the Seattle Mariners.

Lacrosse and field hockey standout Amanda Walton '02 is recovering from an auto accident last Memorial Day weekend that left her temporarily in a coma. Walton, who is from Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, was Ivy League Rookie of the Year in both sports her freshman year.

The women’s soccer team was ranked 10th in the northeast in October after chalking up a 6–3–1 record in the season’s first half. The men’s team, ranked ninth in New England, was 5–4 at midseason.


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