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The Blade on the Beinecke Floor

On the morning of June 8, Naomi Saito, an employee of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, was walking through the reading room when she spotted something metallic on the floor. It was just a small knife blade, the kind generally used for crafts projects. But in the Beinecke, small blades can mean something different: antiquities thieves use them to slice valuable items out of books. Saito’s find led to an immediate arrest and the discovery that three rare maps had been cut out of volumes in the Beinecke—and to a flurry of inventory research at other institutions, some of which have already discovered that they are missing maps of their own.

Beinecke employees called the Yale police to report finding the blade. They also began video surveillance. Police later said that a surveillance camera caught Edward Forbes Smiley III, a well-known antique-map dealer who lives on Martha’s Vineyard, cutting a rare map out of a book. According to the police report, police followed Smiley out of the library to the lobby of the Center for British Art, where they confronted him and found seven rare maps in his briefcase and blazer pocket. Smiley said the maps were his own and that he had brought them into the Beinecke to check their authenticity. The next day, library officials said that three of the maps found in Smiley’s briefcase—police valued them at $278,000—were missing from the Beinecke. All three were from books Smiley had reviewed that day.

Smiley, charged with three counts of larceny, entered a plea of not guilty in New Haven Superior Court on August 9. He did not return phone calls from this magazine, and his attorney, Richard Reeve of New Haven, declined to comment.

In 2001, a summer employee at the Beinecke cut historic signatures worth an estimated $1.5 million out of documents; he was caught after a potential buyer became suspicious. Today, library officials say, their security is tight. “It’s always heartbreaking to see damage like this,” says University Librarian Alice Prochaska, “but the most important thing I can say is that our staff was extremely vigilant. I’m very pleased with the performance of our system.”

The maps Smiley is charged with stealing all date from the Age of Discovery. One of them, from a 1631 book entitled Advertisements for the Unexperienced Planters of New England, or Anywhere, was drawn by Captain John Smith, the founder of Jamestown, Virginia; it is one of the earliest accurate maps of New England. But officials at other institutions Smiley visited are now examining the items he requested. The British Library, the Boston Public Library, and Chicago’s Newberry Library told the Hartford Courant that they are missing maps from books that Smiley handled during visits there. The FBI is investigating.

Beinecke administrators are now reviewing their security measures and examining their records to see if anything else is missing. Prochaska wouldn’t discuss security at the library, except to say it’s in line with what comparable institutions do. “We’re looking very carefully at everything we do,” she says. “The challenge is always balancing accessibility and security.”

William Reese '77, an antiquarian bookseller and an adviser to the Beinecke, said the soaring prices for antique maps have made them an increasingly attractive target for thieves. “Twenty years ago, that John Smith map was worth about $4,000. Today it’s probably worth $80,000.”


Training Teachers for City Schools

You need more than good intentions and a head full of knowledge to teach in an urban middle school or high school. As Jack Gillette '85PhD explains, you have to deal with students who have varied and unpredictable gaps in their education, an unusual number of special-education students who need individual education plans, and “a huge range of bureaucratic requirements that invade the classroom and distract the teacher.”

Gillette is the moving force behind a new Yale effort to give teachers the skills to stay afloat in urban classrooms. Next year, the university will begin offering a master of arts degree in urban education studies for aspiring teachers. Applicants must agree to work in the New Haven public schools for three years upon graduation. Open both to recent college graduates and career changers, the Yale Urban Teaching Initiative will offer certification to teach grades 7 through 12 in Connecticut. Yale will provide an $18,000 stipend for living expenses during the 14-month program.

The initiative is an outgrowth of the university’s 33-year-old teacher preparation program, which allows undergraduates to work toward Connecticut teacher certification while attending Yale. Gillette, the director of that program and a lecturer in the sociology department, says the program tries to show teachers how to diagnose urban students' learning problems. “You get kids that are really very smart and taking advanced math classes like Algebra II, but there are holes,” he says. “If you’re trying to teach the concept of pi over three, it may be unclear whether fractions are hanging them up or whether they don’t get the concept of pi as a domain. We expose them to and give them practice in approaches that make the student’s thinking more apparent—more out-loud work and different kinds of assessment. Our focus is on understanding why they are getting it right or wrong.”

New Haven school superintendent Reginald Mayo sees the fellowship as a way to infuse energetic young teachers into a district whose students regularly score lower on standardized tests than their suburban counterparts. He says the Yale students will also benefit from apprenticing themselves to experienced New Haven teachers.

“You don’t accomplish anything unless you have the skills and wherewithal to deal with classroom management,” says Mayo. “Many of the urban kids come to school with a lot of issues, and you really have to be a dynamo and have a whole bag of skills and tricks to keep them interested. That’s 90 percent of the game.”

Yale already has a close relationship with the New Haven schools, forged through the existing teacher preparation program, in which Yale students do their practice teaching in New Haven classrooms. “New Haven teachers have for years invested in our undergraduate program,” says Gillette. “What’s great now is that the investment they make will directly come back to the New Haven public schools.


Researcher Takes Helm at Nursing School

For the last 15 years, the School of Nursing has been trying to establish itself as a leader in research. Now, one of the people behind that effort has been named dean of the school. Margaret Grey '76MSN, associate dean for research, was appointed dean this summer after a year-long search.

“Fifteen years ago, this school was on the verge of being closed,” says Grey, recalling a university budget crisis in which nursing and many other programs were nearly given the ax. “Without the strong commitment to research we wouldn’t exist today.” The school enhanced its research efforts and started a doctoral program in 1994; since then, its ranking as a recipient of National Institutes of Health research grants has jumped from 48th to 6th.

Grey’s own research focuses on how children cope with diabetes; she has been the principal investigator in projects that have received won more than $15 million in grants. But as dean, she says, she must address the school’s clinical and teaching programs, which some faculty feel have been neglected in favor of research. “We have to stay true to our clinical practice mission and educational mission at the same time we continue to advance our research mission,” says Grey. “My own career has been built around balancing those things.”

On the educational front, the school is launching a new master’s degree program next year in nursing management, policy, and leadership—an executive MBA-like curriculum in which nurse managers can get an advanced degree without leaving their jobs.

As for fund-raising priorities, Grey says that during Yale’s upcoming capital campaign, the nursing school will be trying to raise money for student scholarships. “Our students graduate with debt levels comparable to medical school graduates, but they have significantly lower earnings,” she says. She also hopes to increase the number of endowed chairs, since “the competition for high-quality faculty is at an all-time high.”


Yale Workers Talk Back

Last year, Yale conducted its first-ever university-wide survey of its employees, bringing its human resources practices “into the 21st century, or at least the middle of the 20th,” quips Victor H. Vroom, the John G. Searle Professor of Organization and Management.

“In HR policies, Yale has never been a trendsetter. Most universities are way behind,” says Vroom. Workplace surveys, he notes, originated in the private sector in the 1930s.

Results of the poll, released in June, show that given the right opportunities, most Yale employees would like to spend their careers at Yale (82 percent) and would recommend the university as a good place to work (77 percent). They understand how their work contributes to the goals of the university (88 percent); and by a small majority feel that labor relations at Yale are improving (53 percent). Only 44 percent feel they have enough staff in their divisions to do their jobs well; only 37 percent feel that employees avoid “passing the buck"; and only 44 percent feel that the university views them “as an essential part of Yale’s long-term success.”

Those surveyed included management; clerical and technical workers; and custodial and maintenance workers, with 51 percent replying. Only a handful of the 3,200 faculty members were polled.

“It’s been incredibly powerful to have the anecdotes turned into rigorous numbers. Yale has been run by anecdote for years,” says Laura Freebairn-Smith, director of organizational development. “It’s been very useful for determining where we can make the most difference for the most people.”

Vroom says that the survey can catalyze improvement if supervisors take the next step: the time-consuming process of studying the results for their units and hammering out modifications of policies and practices. “It’s the discussions that are critical to any changes that will result,” he says.

Supervisors have begun meetings to analyze the responses and plan for action. Because School of Drama employees said they worry about safety, the department stepped up its instruction on safety procedures such as using masks when handling hazardous materials. Costume shop employees said they could work more efficiently with a specialized “walking foot” sewing machine, and the school bought one. “The workplace survey has emboldened everybody to ask the questions and to show concern, and that’s very valuable,” says Victoria Nolan, deputy dean of the School of Drama.

Yolanda B. Giordano, an accounting assistant in the Department of Pediatrics, helped write the survey. “It’s not any good unless they use it, “she said. “But it’s a beginning. It’s a starting point.” The university plans to repeat the survey every two years.  the end







After 35 years, the screen went dark at the York Square Cinemas on July 16 after a free farewell double bill of The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep. The theater had struggled for years, manager Peter Spodick said, because film distributors favor suburban multiplex theaters and would not give it first-run movies. While the title The Big Sleep is obvious enough for a last showing, Spodick said they chose The Maltese Falcon in part for Humphrey Bogart’s closing line: “the stuff that dreams are made of.”





Campus Clips

Yale Health Services will move to a new building at Canal and Lock streets, the university announced in July. The 34-year-old health services center on Hillhouse Avenue is overcrowded and obsolete, administrators say. The new building, scheduled for completion in 2009, will occupy a long-vacant site north of the Grove Street Cemetery and next to the new campus police headquarters.

Eight elite universities from around the world, including Yale, are forming a partnership, but no one is talking yet about just what the alliance will mean. Announcement of the plan was made in July by the Australian National University, whose president will serve as the partnership’s chairman. The other members are the University of California at Berkeley, the National University of Singapore, Peking University, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the University of Copenhagen, and the University of Tokyo. More details are expected after a meeting of the institutions this winter.

A new archive at Yale called the Artemis Project seeks to collect documents from “truth commissions” from around the world in one location. Such commissions are usually formed after the fall of an oppressive regime to investigate human rights abuses. The project is named for graduate student Artemis Christodulou ’00, who helped conceive the idea of the archive. Christodulou was paralyzed in a car accident while working in Sierra Leone last year.

All 50 states and 42 foreign countries are represented in the Yale College Class of 2009, which arrived on campus in late August. The Office of Public Affairs reports that the class includes a student in training to be an Inca shaman, an inventor with four U.S. patents, and an Eagle Scout who survived a polar bear attack in Alaska.








Summer People

The sleepy summer campus is a thing of the past. Since 2001, a Massachusetts nonprofit called Exploration Summer Programs has housed its enrichment program for high school students on the Yale campus. In two three-week sessions, a total of 1,300 students participate in courses and other activities intended in part to give them a taste of college life. Sure enough, by the program’s end, they’re jaywalking across Elm Street like true Elis.


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