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Light & Verity

Accord reached on Cancer Center

It took two nights of intense negotiations—and lots of pizza, coffee, and sandwiches—to break a year-long stalemate over a plan by Yale–New Haven Hospital (YNHH) to build a $430 million cancer care and research facility. On March 22, representatives from the City of New Haven, YNHH, and a local health care workers' union announced an agreement that speeds approval for the cancer center and sets ground rules for a union election for the hospital’s 1,800 service workers.

The deal put an end to a loud and public political fight marked by dueling television commercials, demonstrations, and opinion pieces in the local media (see Light and Verity, March/April). YNHH accused city officials of using the cancer center—which required zoning-change approvals from the city—as a bargaining chip in the continuing effort to unionize hospital workers. Union leaders portrayed the YNHH as arrogantly trying to push its plan through without regard for the community. And aldermen expressed concern at the project’s size and its impact on traffic, parking, and the environment.

But the acrimony of the previous year seemed forgotten at the March 22 announcement, as Mayor John DeStefano Jr. declared the deal a “win-win-win” for the parties involved. The city said it would approve the zoning change and other aspects of the hospital’s plan as originally proposed last March, putting the hospital on track for a groundbreaking in September. YNHH agreed to sweeten the package of community benefits it offered a year ago, adding $1.2 million for new housing in the area, a pledge to hire 100 city residents each year, and a $1.4 million annual voluntary payment to the city (similar to those made by Yale and a few other tax-exempt New Haven institutions).

As for the labor question, the hospital and the Service Employees International Union agreed to a secret-ballot election, under the auspices of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), after a nine-month organizing period beginning June 1. The two sides also agreed to a code of conduct that prohibits either side from disparaging the other. A jointly selected arbitrator will quickly settle disputes over violations of the code, avoiding the NLRB’s protracted grievance process.

The deal was hammered out during negotiations brokered by Bruce Alexander '65, Yale’s vice president for New Haven and state affairs, who had joined the talks in February at the request of DeStefano. (The university and YNHH are separate organizations, but Yale doctors practice there, and the university has seats on YNHH’s board of directors.) The final push came on the eve of what would have been a contentious zoning hearing on the cancer center project. “The mayor, last night, with his technique of sleep deprivation, sealed the deal,” said Alexander at the announcement. The agreement also came two days after DeStefano announced his campaign for governor of Connecticut, a campaign in which failure to get the cancer center under way could have left him vulnerable to criticism.

YNHH’s plan calls for a 14-story building adjacent to the existing hospital that will allow consolidation of the cancer treatment facilities currently spread throughout the medical center. Officials at YNHH and the Yale School of Medicine say the new facilities are necessary to maintain Yale’s status as one of the nation’s 39 federally designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers. The hospital will also build a seven-story medical office building north of the hospital on Park Street and a parking garage with retail and office space at Howe Street and Legion Avenue. 


Noted curator to head art school

Every budding artist must study contrast, and a comparison of the outgoing and incoming deans of the School of Art offers a good example. Richard “Chip” Benson, stepping down after ten years, is a leading and largely self-taught printer and photographer. His successor, Robert Storr, whose appointment was announced in March after an eight-month search, is an eminent critic, academic, and curator: he is the first American ever to be selected as commissioner of the Venice Biennale, a major contemporary art exhibition.

“I can’t imagine anyone with a stronger resume,” says School of Art professor Tod Papageorge, who chaired the search committee. “Some people have a peculiar ability to articulate matters of visual art so other people can understand and learn from them. Robert Storr has that ability.”

Storr, a professor at New York University and a consulting curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is an authority on modern and contemporary art. From 1990 to 2002, he was a curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he organized acclaimed retrospectives on the work of Gerhard Richter, Max Beckmann, and Chuck Close '64MFA. He will take a leave of absence next spring to run the Biennale.

Just as Benson is also known as a scholar—his post-deanship plans include writing a history of printing and photography for the Museum of Modern Art—Storr is also an artist. He earned an MFA in painting from the Art Institute of Chicago, and his paintings have been exhibited in group shows in New York City.

Introduced to the school at a reception in late March, Storr did not lay out any future plans for the school, saying only that he wanted to “help the next generation [of artists] continue to pump ideas into a system that badly needs it” and attempt to “dispel the myths that the art world is this sinister place.”

Also on Storr’s agenda at Yale will be the construction of a new studio building for sculpture students, down the street from Green Hall (the school’s main building on Chapel Street), and a university-wide capital campaign that will include a fund-raising effort for financial aid in the arts schools. Except for the School of Music, which recently received a $100 million gift and is now waiving tuition for all its students, Yale’s arts schools offer little in financial aid, leaving many of their graduates with modest-paying careers and lots of loan debt.

“I think he’ll do an outstanding job,” says MoMA director Glenn Lowry. “Bob is a highly talented curator, an accomplished artist, and he has great skills to bring to the school.”


New public health dean says bigger isn’t better

Over the years, many faculty members in the School of Public Health have pushed, unsuccessfully, for its independence from the School of Medicine. They have argued that its small size and its unique status—as both a degree-granting school and a department (epidemiology and public health, or EPH) of the medical school—leave it at a disadvantage against larger, freestanding rivals. But newly named dean Paul Cleary says EPH’s status and size made the job that much more attractive.

“The smallness and the direct ties to the medical school at Yale will make it easier to develop areas of excellence and to create collaborative relationships,” says Cleary, who will assume his new post on July 1.

Cleary is considered an international leader in the development of patient-centered health care research and in making such research part of the assessment of health care quality. Since 1982, he has been a faculty member in the departments of health care policy and social medicine at Harvard Medical School, as well as the department of health and social behavior at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Starting in the 1990s, he helped develop methods for measuring patients' own reports about their health care experiences, particularly in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. “This was different from typical academic research resulting just in papers,” he says. “We promoted the concept of patient-centered care and laid out specific things to be measured by hospitals and clinics and ways to improve services based on those assessments.” Many of the patient- centered concepts he championed have been adopted by health care systems around the world.

While he has never before run a major academic institution, he says that, through his work, “I’ve spent a lot of time learning about things that work and don’t work in these types of organizations.”

“He’s the ultimate scholar,” says medical school dean Robert Alpern. “He’s thoughtful and scholarly about everything he does. He’s a good listener. In his case, scholarship and academic leadership go together.” According to Alpern, Cleary was chosen from among more than 100 candidates considered during a 13-month search. “He met with the faculty, and they started sending me e-mails right away, saying, Paul Cleary is the one you have to choose.”

EPH is especially well regarded for its scholarship in certain areas, including genetic epidemiology and HIV research. But with only around 40 full-time faculty members and 210 students—plus faculty and students in affiliated departments and joint degree programs—the school has at times struggled to build and sustain its national standing. “I want to see EPH get a lot better,” comments Alpern, who says that EPH will remain part of the School of Medicine for the foreseeable future. He says the new dean will have resources to help EPH “grow some. But it won’t grow much in the near future. We want it to define certain foci where it can be the best.”


Law School awaits ruling on military recruiting

After the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in March that universities must provide military recruiters with the same access to their students as they do other employers, the writing was on the wall for most institutions: comply or risk losing all your federal funding. But the issue is still up in the air at Yale, as the Law School awaits an appellate ruling on a similar but separate lawsuit. The Yale Law School allows military recruiters to come to campus and interview students, but it bars them from a school-sponsored program that matches students and potential employers and schedules interviews. Employers in that program must sign a non-discrimination pledge that includes sexual orientation.

The March Supreme Court decision came in the case of Rumsfeld v. FAIR (Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights), a suit filed by a coalition of other law schools arguing that the Solomon Amendment, a federal law requiring access for military recruiters, violates the free-speech rights of universities that object to the military’s exclusion of openly gay men and women.

“As a general matter, the Solomon Amendment regulates conduct, not speech,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in his decision. “It affects what law schools must do—afford equal access to military recruiters—not what they may or may not say.”

But it remains unclear just what effect the ruling will have on Burt v. Rumsfeld, a suit filed in March 2004 by 44 Yale Law School professors. Burt v. Rumsfeld argues that the Law School should be able to continue its current practice of refusing assistance to military recruiters. In January 2005, U.S. District Judge Janet Hall had ruled that, because of its nondiscrimination policy, the Law School could preserve the arrangement. But the Justice Department appealed.

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision against FAIR, Law School professor Robert Burt said that Burt v. Rumsfeld presents a stronger case because it focuses on Yale’s specific policies instead of the variety of policies in place at the FAIR schools. Also, he says, Yale’s case has a more extensive factual record of the school’s recruiting practices. “They [FAIR] sped their cases through the court system and put the weakest possible case in front of the Supreme Court,” Burt said. “We were much more deliberate.”

The case is still pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Whatever the outcome, Law School dean Harold Hongju Koh said in a statement that the school would take full advantage of an invitation Roberts issued in his opinion—“for law schools to engage in more speech, not less, in the months ahead.”  the end






Dining hall DIY

Like a dining hall MacGyver, Zach Marks '09 can produce a gourmet meal from the ordinary items at a condiment station. Marks writes a column of do-it-yourself dining hall recipes for the Yale Daily News. He has taught readers how to make a Thai peanut sauce (left) with sesame oil, soy sauce, and peanut butter; a dessert fondue with chocolate chips from the ice cream topping bar; and raita with salad bar cucumbers. Some of his recipes involve items usually kept back in the kitchen, but Marks says this is no problem for a persuasive freshman: “It’s given me a chance to get to know the staff.”




Campus Clips

An online learning venture created in 2000 by Yale, Oxford, and Stanford has folded. AllLearn provided noncredit courses, taught by professors from the three universities, to more than 10,000 participants, said president S. Kristin Kim in a statement. But “as we looked to the future, the cost of offering top-quality enrichment courses at affordable prices was not sustainable over time.”

Keeping PhD candidates on pace is the goal of an upcoming evaluation of Yale’s doctoral programs. Graduate School dean Jon Butler announced in April that he is asking individual departments to review their programs to see if they can help candidates finish their PhDs sooner. Butler said departments should pay particular attention to the second, third, and fourth years of their programs. “The people who are getting into trouble finishing—it’s not because of what they’re writing in year six,” says Butler. “It’s because they haven’t started writing until year four and a half.”

The Peruvian government told Yale in March that it is breaking off negotiations over artifacts from Machu Picchu in Yale’s possession and will sue the university for their return. The two sides disagree about who has legal claim to the objects, which were excavated and brought to Yale in the 1910s by explorer Hiram Bingham '98. Peru rejected Yale’s offer to share the items and to help build a museum in Peru for their display.

The Graduate School does not discriminate against Chinese students, a university committee determined in March. The committee of four professors and two graduate students was created by Graduate School dean Jon Butler in October after the Graduate Employees and Students Organization led protests over alleged discrimination (see Light & Verity, January/February). The committee offered recommendations to improve communication with international students with regard to evaluations and financial issues.





Memorialized molecules

Yale’s legacy of richly ornamented metal gates died  with the advent of modernism—or did it? School of Architecture professor Kent Bloomer '61MFA has reinvented the art form for the twenty-first century in a gate for the Class of 1954 Chemistry Research Building.

The red central grid displays tiny arrows that point up or down, describing ordered and disordered states such as ice and water—a tribute to the Nobel Prize–winning Yale chemist Lars Onsager '35PhD, who developed an important theory of such transitions. A row of octahedra on each side of the grid and a series of tetrahedral forms represent inorganic and organic chemistry, respectively.

At the top of the gate at the far left and right is a visual joke for true chem jocks: since amino acids are identified by letter codes, Bloomer and the committee of chemists who advised him decided to spell out  “YALE” and “CHEM” in amino acids. But there was a  close call along the way: when Bloomer sent a model of the gate to faculty for review, a very important part of the “Y” molecule fell off in transit. The remainder read, “FALE CHEM.”


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