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Yale and Unions Adopt Confrontational Stance
The high hopes of January, when Yale and its unions promised to work toward a more cooperative relationship, fell considerably as the academic year began, with the unions approving a strike authorization by a wide margin and President Levin accusing them of being “more interested in preparing for confrontation during the academic year than in discussing and resolving the contract issues that remain open.”
Levin made his remarks in an August 29 letter to Yale students, faculty, and staff. Citing the strike vote and union activities that “question Yale’s commitment to New Haven,” he suggested that Locals 34 and 35 were promoting a confrontation over the union organizing drives at Yale–New Haven Hospital and among Yale graduate students. “It is regrettable,” wrote Levin, “that the unions' efforts to organize hospital workers, graduate teaching assistants, and New Haven neighborhoods appear to have taken priority over the objective of securing contracts for the 4,000 employees represented by Locals 34 and 35.”
Union leader Robert Proto told the New Haven Register that it is “absolutely not true” that the unions are more interested in confrontation than in a settlement. The unions point to a consultant’s report that both sides endorsed early this year, which recommends that the two sides reach an “understanding” about the hospital and teaching-assistant union drives. The unions want Yale to agree to “card-count neutrality” in both drives; the University advocates secret-ballot elections.
The negotiations over the two unions' contracts, which expired in January, began when the two sides retained the consultant, Restructuring Associates, Inc. (RAI), to look at Yale’s labor situation and lead the administration and the unions through training in “interest-based bargaining,” an alternative to adversarial negotiations. The two sides have reached agreement on some issues, most notably on union representation in new or renovated buildings.
But the talks slowed over the summer, and differences over the organizing efforts and over wage and pension proposals have become more acrimonious. In addition to the strike vote and the sharp language, hospital officials had University employees arrested twice in September for distributing union literature (improperly, the hospital said) on the hospital premises. The union had suggested that a strike might be called in October, but they recently allowed their contract to be extended through the end of the month.
Both sides post regular updates on the negotiations, the unions at www.yaleunions.org and the administration at www.yale.edu/opa/labor.
Princeton Caught Snooping Online
The story may not have had everything, but it had enough to capture media attention in the dog days of summer: Ivy Leaguers, Internet snooping, college admissions, and even a member of the Bush family. The revelation by the Yale Daily News that Princeton admissions officials had broken in to Yale’s online system for reporting admissions decisions spawned tut-tutting about Princeton’s ethics, criticism of Yale’s online security, and rampant speculation about the Tigers' motives.
It all started at an Ivy League admissions meeting in June, when Yale admissions officials were describing a new Web site where applicants to Yale College could find out their admissions status without waiting for a letter in the mail. By typing in their name, birthdate, and Social Security number, admitted students were taken to a personalized “Welcome to Yale!” page that played “Bulldog.” The site included links to subjects in which the student had expressed an interest and e-mail links for current Yale students from the student’s home region.
At the meeting, Princeton associate dean of admissions Stephen LeMenager said that he had entered the site by using data from the files of students who had applied to both schools. The Yale admissions office examined the site’s records and found evidence to confirm the claim. On July 24, President Levin presented Princeton president Shirley Tilghman with the evidence after learning that the Daily News planned to report the story on its Web site the next day. The News article led to a front-page story in the New York Times and a period of celebrity for the News editors, who were interviewed about the story on Fox News and other media. A few days later, it was revealed that the eight students whose records were viewed improperly included presidential niece Lauren Bush (who ended up choosing Princeton).
After an internal investigation, Princeton concluded that LeMenager and others in his office had acted merely out of curiosity about Yale’s system, the first online notification in the Ivy League, and that the information they gained from viewing the site had not been misused. But as a result of the breaches both of Yale’s site and its applicants' confidential information, LeMenager was reassigned to another office at Princeton. President Tilghman issued an apology to Yale, as did LeMenager’s boss, admissions dean Fred Hargadon, who announced that he planned to retire at the end of this year.
While most of the media commentary about the break-in dwelt on Princeton’s behavior—which some saw as a symbol of the growing competitiveness in college admissions—Yale was criticized for its reliance on bithdates and Social Security numbers for entrance to the site. While an admissions official says that no breaches of security other than Princeton’s identity theft have been discovered, the system will use unique personal identification numbers next year.
End is Likely for City’s Coliseum
When the New Haven Coliseum opened in 1972, it was the kind of building that historic preservationists considered the enemy—a behemoth that ignored the scale of the surrounding urban fabric. But now that the city is planning to demolish the underused sports and concert venue, noted preservationists—including School of Architecture dean Robert A. M. Stern—have issued a last-minute appeal to the city to reconsider.
The Coliseum and its neighbor, the Knights of Columbus building, have been a symbol of downtown New Haven to passersby for 30 years. Designed by architect Kevin Roche, the buildings are exemplars of the brash “New Brutalism” of the era. In a 1976 guide to New Haven architecture, historian Elizabeth Mills Brown called the space under the building’s parking garage, with its outdoor escalators, “an experience of sheer spatial intoxication.” But more recent critics have found the building insensitive to its surroundings and less than inviting inside.
The Coliseum has been home to concerts, conventions, expositions, and a succession of minor-league hockey teams. It has also hosted some Yale hockey and basketball games—most notably last year’s historic National Invitation Tournament appearance by the men’s basketball team.
But competition from new arenas nearby—in Bridgeport and at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Montville—has hurt the Coliseum, and city officials decided this year to spend $20 million to raze it and retire its debt rather than spend $50 million to renovate it and continue to subsidize it for another decade. The building was closed on September 1, and Mayor John DeStefano Jr. says it will be demolished “as soon as possible.” The city has suggested that a hotel and conference center and a new home for the Long Wharf Theater could be built on the site, which is adjacent to the Ninth Square redevelopment area.
But Stern and other preservationist complain that the Coliseum was condemned without public input, and that the building’s architectural merit was not considered. “It’s one of those buildings you love to hate,” says Stern, who is well known as a defender of modern landmarks, “but it’s one that—like the World Trade Center—we will miss if it goes.” DeStefano says the decision will not be revisited.
Blue Planet Prize for FES Dean
James Gustave Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, joined a short list of luminaries this summer when he was named a winner of the Blue Planet Prize, an award that has been given annually for the past 10 years by the Tokyo-based Asahi Glass Foundation. The prize, which this year is also being given to Stanford professor Harold Mooney, includes an award of 50 million Japanese yen (approximately $400,000) that each man will receive during ceremonies next month in Japan.
According to the Foundation, Speth is being honored for “a lifetime of creative and visionary leadership in the search for science-based solutions to global environmental problems and for pioneering efforts to bring these issues, including global climate change, to broad international attention.” After graduating from the College in 1964 and the Law School in 1969, Speth was a founder of both the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Resources Institute. He was appointed the administrator of the United Nations Development Programme in 1993 and FES dean in 1999. In addition, from 1977 to 1981, Speth served on President Carter’s Council on Environmental Quality, and there helped write the Global 2000 Report, a seminal analysis that examined population pressures, pollution, resource degradation, and climate change, and sold more than 1.5 million copies worldwide.
Speth, who plans to contribute most of his prize money to environmental causes, including FES, continues to speak out, most recently in August at the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg—and he worries that the conservationist message may not be getting across in time.
“The alarms sounded 20 years ago have not been heeded,” says Speth, “and soon it will be too late to prevent an appalling deterioration of the natural world.” The award winner hopes that his work as FES dean “trying to build a new generation of leaders” can help head off a looming crisis.
Alumni Directory Goes Virtual
The 2000 Yale Alumni Directory weighs eight pounds. The average computer mouse weighs about four ounces. Those numbers alone demonstrate the value of putting the alumni directory online, a project that was completed this summer by the Association of Yale Alumni. Now alumni can log on to a free, password-protected database that includes contact and professional information for 130,000 alumni of the University. And unlike a print directory, the information is updated daily by the Alumni Records office.
The new directory is part of what the AYA is calling an “online community” that also includes message boards and the Virtual Yale Station e-mail forwarding service. AYA executive director Jeffrey Brenzel says that an “online career mentoring system” is also in the works under the same umbrella.
The directory went online in August, two months after alumni were sent a letter with a password encouraging them to register at the site. The AYA says that some 16,000 people—13 percent of the alumni—had registered by early September.
Brenzel says that Yale moved “cautiously” toward an online system, in part because the leading providers of such services had not developed a way for people to choose how much information they allow their fellow alumni to see. “We were concerned about preserving the maximum availability of privacy,” says Brenzel. The system recently produced by Harris Publishing, which also publishes Yale’s print directory, fit the bill, says Brenzel, because alumni can display as much contact information as they choose—a business address but not a home one, for example.
Perhaps because of this flexibility, only about 100 alumni have asked to be excluded entirely from the online database at all. Among the site’s other features is a “bookmark” system in which users can create an annotated list of up to 100 contacts.
Alumni can register at alumniconnections.com/yale
Vinland Map Flap Redux
New publications have reignited an old controversy over the authenticity of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s Vinland Map. The small parchment document, which depicts a world that seems to include the coastlines of Labrador and Newfoundland, is said to date from around 1440. If that date is correct, then Columbus probably knew where he was going when he left port in 1492.
But no sooner had the map, which was purchased by Paul Mellon in 1958 and donated to Yale, been publicized in 1965 than it attracted defenders and detractors. Both camps will find something to like and loathe in the new research.
In the August edition of the journal Radiocarbon, Smithsonian investigator Jacqueline Olin and her colleagues determined that the date of the map’s parchment was about 1434. But in the July edition of Analytical Chemistry, Robin J.H. Clark and Katherine Brown, from University College in London, concluded that the ink used in the map is of 20th-century vintage. And in a book to be published later this year, exploration historian Kirsten Seaver identifies the purported forger, Father Joseph Fischer, a Jesuit priest and old map expert.
In reaction, University Librarian Alice Prochaska is diplomatic. “We regard ourselves as the custodians of an extremely interesting and controversial document,” says Prochaska, “and we watch the scholarly work on it with great interest.”
A rather tall group of tourists made its way across Italy in August, taking in Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, and Lake Como—and playing a little basketball along the way. The men’s basketball team, which finished last season as the toast of the campus by notching Yale’s first-ever postseason tournament win (against Rutgers in the National Invitation Tournament), took advantage of NCAA regulations that permit teams to play games abroad in the summer every four years. (Normally, teams cannot even practice together until an appointed date in the fall.)
From August 11 to August 20, the team toured Italy, playing four games against Italian professional teams. “The caliber of play is comparable to high-level Division I,” says coach James Jones. The Bulldogs won their first game against Tuscany Select but lost the remaining three.
“The emphasis for us was not on winning games,” says Jones. “We wanted to work on building team chemistry. Everybody played in every game, and my assistants each coached a game. It helped me see things to work on that we wouldn’t have seen until the first few games.”
Between games, the players rode gondolas, gaped at the Sistine Chapel, and explored Italian nightlife, describing their days in diary entries on the basketball Web site, yale.edu/athletic/Showcase/Mbball/on_tour/
Back home, the team opens its season as usual with a series of non-conference road games against tough Division I opponents, including season opener Oklahoma State on November 22, Wake Forest on November 27, and Stanford on December 30.
Using a blow torch, a brew of chemicals, and a grant from Facilities, sculpture conservator Susan Schussler “repatinated” the three bronze residents of the Old Campus. The sculptures are now cloaked in richer brown tones, but one thing was left unchanged. “Woolsey’s toe,” says Schussler, “will remain golden.”
More than 95 percent of the Yale library’s catalog is now online after a decade-long project to convert the library’s card catalog to digital form. Library officials say the paper card catalog—which is no longer being updated—will stay in the nave of Sterling Memorial Library for several more years.
How best to respond to a smallpox attack by terrorists? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a plan for targeted vaccinations in the event of an outbreak, but Edward Kaplan, a professor at Yale’s School of Management, says mass vaccinations would be more effective. Using a mathematical model, Kaplan and colleagues at MIT determined that mass vaccination could reduce the number of deaths in a city of 10 million by 4,120 people.
The distance-education venture formed two years ago by Yale, Oxford, and Stanford announced in August that it will now offer its courses to the public. AllLearn—formerly the Alliance for Lifelong Learning—had previously offered its courses only to alumni of its three member universities. The $250 courses are developed by professors at the universities.
Ice cream lovers rejoice: Ashley’s is back. he ice cream parlor that contributed to students' “freshman 15” from 1978 to 1999 returned to York Street in September.
Want to live longer? Researchers at Yale and Miami University say it’s all in how you look at it. In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in August, a team led by Becca Levy of Yale’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health found that people who have “positive self-perceptions about aging” lived seven and a half years longer than those whose stereotypes about aging were more negative.
From the Collections
Three years ago, the history of art department contacted Branford College master Steven Smith to offer him James Gamble Rogers’s original plaster model of Harkness Tower, which had been sitting in a faculty office for many years. Smith had the four-foot replica of his college’s most visible symbol cleaned and placed under glass in the Branford common room.
The Heisman Trophy is coming to Yale—sort of. In December, the Yale Club of New York City will host the annual dinner at which college football’s highest honor is awarded. The dinner’s traditional host, the Downtown Athletic Club, has been closed since the September 11 attacks.
Sophomore hockey standout Chris Higgins was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of this summer’s NHL draft. Higgins, who plans to stay at Yale and play for at least another year, is the first Bulldog ever to be drafted in the first round. Another sophomore, Joe Callahan, was picked by Phoenix in the third round.
Ivy League sportswriters picked this year’s Bulldog football team to finish sixth in the conference, citing the team’s inexperience. Defending champion Harvard was a near-unanimous choice to win another title.
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