Kim Snodgrass clearly remembers Dec. 11, 1998. It was her first day in the sixth grade, and the beginning of her steady education — as well as her salvation.“From then on, I never missed a day of school,” said the master’s student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s (HGSE) Risk and Prevention Program, who will graduate today armed with ambition and a story of overcoming adversity.Snodgrass, a fresh-faced, blued-eyed blonde, could be a poster child for the stereotypical Californian. She could also be a poster child for foster care.As a young girl, she and her family were on the run. They camped out in the mountains and hopped to and from motels and shelters across southern California. They skipped out on apartments whenever the rent was due. They stole to survive, walking out of grocery stores with carts full of food, or filling up the car at gas stations, and then driving away without paying.“That is what we were so used to, stealing things and getting what we needed whenever we needed it.”Snodgrass watched as her stepfather and mother’s addiction to drugs and alcohol broke the family apart, gradually “disintegrating” her parents in the process. Eventually, her mother lost all rights to her five children. Between age 5 and 11, Snodgrass was in and out of at least 10 foster homes. Finally, at age 16, her long-term foster family adopted her, her younger brother, Max, and sister, Jennifer.“I always knew from an early age what [my mother and stepfather] were doing was wrong, and I made a pact to myself that I was going to get myself out of this hole. I was not ever going to touch drugs or alcohol or smoke, and I was going to make it.”Though she had only had sporadic formal schooling before sixth grade, she knew her escape route depended on education. She became a driven student and excelled academically.“I used my education as my savior. It was like my thing that I could always go back to, no matter what happened in my life.”Snodgrass attended the University of California, Irvine, where she studied community and public service. It was there that she dedicated herself to helping foster care children.“When I entered college, I thought I needed a college degree to have a successful family. As a sophomore, I thought I needed a college degree to change the foster care population, as I found out that only 50 percent of foster youth graduate from high school. My junior year, I realized that I needed a graduate degree to really make an impact and help train others about how they can make change to make an even bigger impact.”With her new master’s degree, she hopes to provide foster care children with access to support systems and mentors who can help them to develop important life skills and succeed in high school and college. As part of her program at Harvard, she developed an intervention method to help foster care youth transition to college and beyond, and is currently working with an HGSE alumna to explore using her program at a local nonprofit.While at Harvard, she also produced an educational video about the foster care system, founded the club REACH (which stands for Realizing Every Action Creates Hope) to raise awareness about foster care youth in school, and worked on a model for a charter school designed for foster care children in connection with the Orangewood Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit in Santa Ana, Calif.She also made time to teach at two local schools. The fast pace is the standard for Snodgrass, who admitted that the overachiever mentality is something of a coping mechanism, one that offers her life a certain kind of balance.“I cram people into every second of the day. My schedule is back to back to back. It’s something that helps [keep] me from sitting down and crying. I don’t just dwell on the past, I think, ‘What can I do tomorrow?’”After Harvard, “the possibilities are endless,” said Snodgrass, who sees herself getting a Ph.D. and working in the policy realm, or running a charter school or nonprofit.But one thing is certain. Citing research that shows that children who face difficult challenges often succeed with the support of just one encouraging voice, Snodgrass sees her future mission clearly.“So many people helped me get where I am today. I want to go back and help others. My mission is to be a child advocate, and become that voice for them.”Her Harvard experience has helped her too, and prepared her to help others.“Harvard was 100 percent where I was supposed to be,” said Snodgrass. “I am going to have a big tool kit when I leave.”
It wasn’t your average day in the expansive Spangler lounge at Harvard Business School (HBS).The sounds of a Galician bagpipe, a conch shell, a tambourine, and a host of other instruments shattered the hall’s typically hushed atmosphere to the delight of a large lunchtime crowd of potential future entrepreneurs and CEOs.Clad in a dark blue pinstripe suit, HBS Dean Nitin Nohria happily plunked himself on the floor, the only place left to sit, and quickly began tapping his foot to an infectious beat as members of the Silk Road Ensemble partook in a brief performance and discussion with the audience. The event was part of the ensemble’s weeklong residency at Harvard.Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria (lower right) happily plunked himself on the floor, the only place left to sit.Affiliated with the University since 2005, the group, made up of internationally renowned performers and composers from more than 20 countries and led by celebrated cellist and Harvard alumnus Yo-Yo Ma, moved to its North Harvard Street headquarters in Allston last year.The residency is part of a five-year collaboration between Harvard and the Silk Road Project, a nonprofit inspired by the cultural traditions of the ancient Eurasian Silk Road trade routes that connected east with west. The project promotes learning through the arts. For the next several years, the ensemble will present a series of performances, workshops, and collaborations with local arts, cultural, and educational institutions.In collaborating with HBS, the ensemble hopes to engage with and learn from future business leaders focused on social entrepreneurship. It also aims to explore the intersection between the worlds of business and the arts, and the notion of cultural entrepreneurship.The idea for it grew out of a meeting between Laura Freid, the Silk Road Project’s chief executive officer and executive director, and Nohria, who discussed the importance of common interests and the meaning of creating value in society, said Ma, the project’s founder and artistic director.Tabla composer Sandeep Das (left) performs with his group at the Harvard Business School event.“We always say that in music the tip of the iceberg is the sound, but what’s behind the sound is the music, which is actually values,” said Ma. He said that the ensemble will work with the Business School and other Schools at Harvard to identify those values.“Then the things that you do,” Ma said, “are the things that make those values visible.”During the week, the ensemble also helped Harvard undergraduates to create music. Last Saturday, student composers met with members of the ensemble and were introduced to some of the group’s instruments, including a gaita, a Galician bagpipe; a shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute; and a jang-go, a Korean hourglass drum.The young composers then worked overnight creating compositions based on either traditional melodies from India or Galicia, Spain. On Sunday, the students reconvened to work on their scores with support and input from ensemble members.For freshman George Meyer, being up all night was a small price to pay for creating a composition with the help of such gifted musicians. Meyer, a talented violinist from Nashville who has a classical music background but is also steeped in the bluegrass tradition, called the collaboration “thrilling.”“They have composers who are working on their own pieces with the group right now, so we got to work with them as we were doing the same thing.”“It was intense,” said Meyer, “but very fun. … It’s a fun challenge to deal with something as loud as the bagpipes and as soft as some of the other instruments like the kamancheh,” a bowed Persian instrument.Some student performers also learned pieces from the group’s non-Western repertoire, which they will perform with the ensemble during a sold-out concert at Harvard’s New College Theatre tonight at 7, an event presented by the Office of the President. Ma and Homi Bhabha, director of the Mahindra Humanities Center, will give a pre-concert talk on neighborliness and the arts.“One of our guiding principles at the Silk Road Project is that the best teachers are also the best learners,” said Freid. “So it has been truly rewarding to watch the fluid dynamic of teaching and learning unfold this week in our collaboration with Harvard undergraduates. We were especially excited to work with students in creating new arrangements for the ensemble. In this way, we are hoping to encourage the student body to become an active part of our roving creative laboratory.”Later this week, members of the ensemble will also take part in a class called “The Arts In Education: Learning In and Through the Arts” at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The class is taught by Steve Seidel, director of the School’s Arts in Education Program. The group will return to Harvard in January for an intensive workshop.Allison Johnson with 5-year-old daughter Clara watch as cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project perform.
“I’m a bad influence,” Microsoft CEO and philanthropist Bill Gates told a crowd of graduating Harvard students in 2007. The speech, delivered before a boisterous Commencement crowd, and recorded for posterity, is out of the archive and streaming from the trees — literally.To celebrate the University’s 375th anniversary, Gates’ address — as well excerpts of other famous addresses — will play on loop from trees in Harvard Yard as part of a project called Harvard Voices, which runs today through Oct. 16, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The selections reflect Harvard’s collective memory and continuing dialogue of ideas.“As you walk through the Yard, you will hear the voices of Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and other notables who have spoken here at Harvard in the past,” said University Marshal Jackie O’Neill, whose office has overseen the project. “We hope people will pause for a moment and linger, to reflect on what is being said and on all the history made in the space we hurry through every day.”Harvard Voices: Listen to Gloria SteinemOriginally prepared for the University’s 350th anniversary, the recordings have been updated to include major addresses in the past 25 years by public figures and creative artists, as well as the reflections of notable Harvard speakers, including the likes of Al Gore, J.K. Rowling, Colin Powell, Nelson Mandela, Alan Greenspan, Gloria Steinem, Sandra Day O’Connor, and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.Feminist activist Gloria Steinem, seen here on Harvard’s campus, is one of the many contemporary voices passersby will hear in the Yard. File photo Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerGates’ self-deprecating remarks were, of course, an acknowledgment of his reputation as Harvard’s most famous dropout. “I’ve been waiting more than 30 years to say this: ‘Dad, I always told you I’d come back and get my degree,’” he said to riotous applause. “I’ll be changing my job next year, and it will be nice to finally have a college degree on my résumé.”Harvard Voices: Listen to Bill GatesNobel Peace Prize recipient Mother Teresa spoke at Harvard’s Class Day in 1982. “I have no gold and silver to give to the American people,” she said, “but I give my sisters, and I hope, together with them, you will … go in haste to find the poor. And if you find them, if you come to know them, you will love them. And if you love them, you will do something for them.”” … Go in haste to find the poor,” Mother Teresa told students in 1982.Harvard Voices: Listen to Mother TeresaIn another recording, poet and Harvard graduate E.E. Cummings recalls his undergraduate experiences in a series of Norton Lectures titled “I — six nonlectures.”Harvard Voices: Listen to e.e. cummings“Unofficially, [Harvard] gave me my first taste of independence and the truest friends any man will ever enjoy. The taste of independence came during my senior year, when I was so lucky as to receive a room by myself in the Yard, for living in the Yard was then an honor, not a compulsion. And this honor, very properly, reserved itself for seniors who might conceivably appreciate it. Hitherto I’d ostensibly lived at home, which meant that intimate contacts with the surrounding world were somewhat periculous. Now I could roam that surrounding world, sans peur if not sans reproche, and I lost no time in doing so. A town called Boston, thus observed, impressed my unsophisticated spirit as the mecca of all human endeavors.”Harvard gave E.E. Cummings the “first taste of independence and the truest friends any man will ever enjoy.”And, delivering a speech to the Harvard Law School Forum in 1962, Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. spoke: “We’ve been able to say to our bitterest and most violent components: ‘We will match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we will still love you.’ ”Martin Luther King Jr.: “We’ve been able to say to our bitterest and most violent components: ‘We will match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we will still love you.’”Harvard Voices: Listen to Martin Luther King JrOther recordings include addresses by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Samuel Eliot Morison, Gertrude Stein, Winston Churchill, George C. Marshall, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, John F. Kennedy, W.E.B. Du Bois, Leonard Bernstein, Barbara Jordan, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Seamus Heaney, Sheldon Glashow, Steven Weinberg, and a unique recording of the riveting last 40 seconds of 1968’s Harvard-Yale football game, in which the Crimson furiously rallied to tie.To listen to the addresses, take a walk through the Yard or visit iTunes.
Charles Brenton Fisk’s daughter once said that her father was “dedicated to his work the way that some people are dedicated to a true love.” The Memorial Church’s new organ is a product of that devotion.In 1943, the U.S. government tapped Fisk, then an 18-year-old Harvard student, to work for physicist Robert Oppenheimer in the bomb-trigger division of the Manhattan Project. Later, Fisk studied nuclear physics at Stanford University, but soon the onetime chorister at Christ Church in Cambridge traded his lab talents for his workshop skills to craft some of the most complex musical instruments.Eventually another Harvard man, the spiritual heart of the University for more than 40 years, noticed Fisk’s artistry. An accomplished organist himself, the Rev. Peter J. Gomes became the driving force behind a donor-funded, $6 million effort to provide his church with the type of sound it deserved.Senior reed voicer Michael Kraft tunes the row of pipes called the Trumpette.The dream of Gomes, who died a year ago, will be realized this Sunday when the new Fisk organ, Opus 139, is officially unveiled. The inauguration begins a series of events showcasing the 16-ton instrument.A 2005 committee led by Gomes agreed that two organs instead of one were needed to fill the church’s space adequately, one for the intimate Appleton Chapel, the other for the main body of the church. For the larger instrument, they turned to C.B. Fisk Inc., the mechanical-tracker organ company founded by Fisk, whose Opus 46 had been in the chapel since 1967.“Fisk epitomizes the classical principles of organ building,” said Christian Lane, associate University organist and choirmaster. “Through a well-constructed, mechanical-action touch … you are really just controlling the wind in this amazing and voluptuous way.”In 2010, the Opus 46 was dismantled for shipping to its new home, a Presbyterian church in Austin, Texas. A 1929 Skinner Organ Co. organ took its place in the chapel.Meanwhile, the new Fisk organ slated for the church’s rear gallery was nearing completion in a town more famous for its fishing fleet than for complicated musical machines. Only a small mahogany sign with the words “C.B. Fisk” identifies the workshop in an industrial park in Gloucester, Mass. Inside, dedicated artisans draft and draw, solder and saw. Small models of every organ the company has made are perched high on ledges scattered around the space. The models are a vital step in the creative process that begins with hand-drawn sketches and ends with sophisticated, three-dimensional computer designs.There’s a collegial ethos at the workshop, a Fisk hallmark. When there is a technical problem, the workers gather to discuss a solution. A reporter’s inquiry about business titles earns chuckles and the response: “We don’t pay too much attention to that kind of thing.”The employees are a mix of the mechanical and the musical, the methodical and the meticulous. A crafter of organ reed pipes is, fittingly, a clarinetist. Another worker made his own cello. There are drummers and guitarists, former boatbuilders, cabinetmakers, engineers, and freelance photographers. Above all, they are craftspeople who love working with their hands.Fisk, the story goes, liked to call his colleagues “blue-scholar workers.”“He was the most brilliant man I ever met,” said Greg Bover, the company’s vice president for operations, who is also project manager for the Memorial Church installation.The mouth area of gold-leafed pipe on the organ’s façade.At Harvard one recent afternoon, Michael Kraft, the company’s head reed voicer, was regulating the tone on some of the organ’s 3,049 pipes, the smallest of which stands only half an inch, and the largest 32 feet. The painstaking task takes months, for good reason. Tuning the organ only affects the pitch, explained Kraft, while the voicing process gives the instrument its distinct sound.“It’s giving each pipe its voice … we are talking about color, timbre, speech, all of the different qualities of the sound. That voicing process is only done once.”Kraft, who has a master’s degree in organ performance from the New England Conservatory, then tested his work by playing a little Johann Sebastian Bach. The sound was magnificent.Harvard’s Gund University Organist and Choirmaster Edward Jones reflected on Gomes’ musical legacy. Thanks to the insistence of the longtime Pusey Minister and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals, the organ’s pipes are sheathed in a brilliant 22-carat gold.“It’s a wonderful instrument. It’s musically eclectic and can do a large range of things,” said Jones. “The construction and architecture of the organ is so beautiful and has been so well thought out that it looks to my mind like it should have been here all along. I hope Peter is looking down with a big smile on his face.”
This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.For busy bicyclist and blogger Alice Anne Brown, MUP ’13, the wheels are always turning. They turn in her mind at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD), where for two years she has studied urban planning — especially how bicycles can make cities more livable, lovable, and viable.And the wheels turn for Brown on the road, where she logs five to 20 miles a day on her one-speed Westport cruiser. It has fat wheels, pedal brakes, a single gear, and a seat that makes her sit up straight, all the better to just look around. (For weekend distance rides, she keeps a Specialized Dolce.) “I’m a three-city girl,” said Brown, whose home is in Somerville, school is in Cambridge, and work is in Boston (as a project manager at Boston Bikes, a citywide cycling initiative).She was born in Detroit, the Motor City, but her core passion revolves around how pedal power could be at the heart of a safe, practical, and low-impact urban life. Brown has ridden the bike lanes in many of the 22 countries she’s visited, though two years ago she was obliged to climb Mount Kilimanjaro on foot.“There is no better way to really see a place,” she said of biking. Her childhood seemed to be on wheels too, and rolled through Michigan to Maryland and back to Ohio for her father’s engineering career. Mostly, she grew up in the village of Baltimore, Ohio, where home was on five acres with a pond. She swam, ice skated, played the flute, and dabbled in 4H. (“I was a disaster at cooking and sewing,” she said.) Her younger brother took to country life, but “I have searched for cities ever since,” said Brown.At Ohio State University, Brown studied physics, then switched to mathematics. (She also rowed crew and played ice hockey.) As an undergraduate senator, Brown sat on a town-gown planning board that piqued her interest in how cities worked, including streetlight audits and regulations for commercial frontage. In 2003, armed with dual degrees in math and philosophy, Brown moved to the Bronx, where for five years she taught math to sixth- and eighth-graders.Even when teaching, Brown felt intimations of the career she ultimately would embrace: planning that would make the world’s cities greener. She spent many hours in New York’s Central Park, a place that she said feels like her real home. In a life-changing experience, Brown led her class through a unit on sustainability, including a look at the “No Impact Man” lifestyle. For a week, she rode her bike everywhere.When she moved to Ethiopia in 2008 for a three-year teaching job in Addis Ababa, her bike came with her, as did her interest in public spaces. Brown surveyed city parks in the capital. She also studied the ubiquitous and cheap 14-passenger minivans that provide informal public transport in much of East Africa. She realized that her interests had converged into a desire to study urban planning.“I wanted to change things,” said Brown, who applied to the GSD, was admitted, and started in September 2011.What’s next? “I could go anywhere,” said Brown. She has new skills at planning and assessment and a vision of cities where streets are designed for more than cars. Still, she added, “I don’t want to be just the bike girl.”
On June 24, 2013, family members of those killed in government-planned massacres in Bolivia in 2003 filed an amended complaint, with extensive new allegations that the defendants, former President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and former Defense Minister Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, had devised a plan to kill thousands of civilians months in advance of the violence.The family members are represented by a team of lawyers, including Tyler Giannini and Susan Farbstein of Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, and lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights, Stanford Law School’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, and the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld.The complaint (PDF) seeks damages against the defendants for their involvement in extrajudicial killings and crimes against humanity. Since the case was originally filed in U.S. courts in 2007, seven former Bolivian officials, including high-ranking military leaders and members of the Cabinet, have been convicted for their participation in the violence.Read more on the Harvard Law School website. Read Full Story
About one in 20 middle and high school students who chew tobacco and use other smokeless tobacco products also smoke cigarettes, a new Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) study shows. The findings suggest smokeless tobacco products may increase – rather than reduce – health risks from cigarettes and other traditional smokes. While cigarette use has declined over the past 10 years, smokeless tobacco use has remained at 5%, the researchers reported.The group analyzed questionnaire responses from 18,866 U.S. students in sixth to 12th grade classrooms at 178 schools in the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey. The researchers found about three-fourths of the approximate 6% of teens in the study who used “chaw,” snuff, or other such products also smoked cigarettes. Teens with friends and family members who smoked were especially at risk of using both.The study, led by Israel Agaku of HSPH’s Center for Global Tobacco Control, was published online August 5, 2013, in the journal Pediatrics.Constantine Vardavas, coauthor and senior research scientist at the Center, discussed the findings August 5, 2013 with the website MedPage Today.“Clinicians when they are engaging an adolescent patient shouldn’t only ask ‘Do you smoke cigarettes?,’ but also ‘Do you use any form of tobacco, including smokeless?’,” Vardavas told MedPage Today. “It’s important that a clinician convey the message that all tobacco products are harmful.” Read Full Story
As a Harvard undergraduate, Diane Paulus haunted the halls of the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), trying to absorb every ounce of its energy and ethos. She dreamed of being cast in an A.R.T. production, a rare but real option for a gifted College actor if a director saw fit. She worked as an usher and attended every show she could, but it wasn’t until after she left Harvard that she got a close look at a professional theater rehearsal.“I wasn’t inside a rehearsal hall until graduate school — that opportunity to just be in a high-level process. I remember thinking when I was a young director, ‘How do you direct? … Maybe one day I will get to see it.’”Since Paulus ’88 took the helm of the A.R.T. as its artistic director in 2009, she has made sure that undergraduates interested in the business of professional theater can have a chance to see every side of that high-octane process up close as part of the theater’s robust internship program.As part of Wintersession between semesters, nine College students traveled to New York City as A.R.T. interns to help Paulus and her production team in the exciting and exhaustive process of bringing a new production to life. The musical “Witness Uganda” will have its world premiere at the A.R.T. on Feb. 4.Intern Mark Mauriello ’15 working with Paulus. As producing intern Mauriello kept tabs on the show’s daily operations.For close to a month, the students, along with the cast and crew, worked on the show that explores the challenges faced by American aid workers around the world. The interns helped with everything from script edits to learning the show’s complex choreography.They had a hand in “all the intricate layers of the physical life of a production,” said Paulus. “They were really heart and soul involved in it, and impacting the whole process.”Producing intern Mark Mauriello ’15 kept tabs on the show’s daily operations. From a spot on the floor in the front of the rehearsal room, he took meticulous notes, watching for changes in the show’s set, staging, or script, and reporting back to the producer in Cambridge.“Every day is totally different, which is part of the best thing about it,” said Mauriello during a lunch break from rehearsals.The Kirkland House junior has long been involved with Harvard’s theater scene, and is currently performing in “The Donkey Show,” rolling around Oberon’s disco-themed set on skates as the character Dr. Wheelgood. A theater arts and performance concentrator who is planning a career in the field, Mauriello he said he was “really, really lucky,” to have worked with the A.R.T.“To be able to sit in the room with someone like Diane Paulus, who is so unbelievably brilliant and great at what she does, and just to learn by watching her do things and being engaged with her work is a huge learning experience.”Choreography intern Megan Murdock ’14 relied on her experience in southwestern Uganda last summer studying traditional East African dance to offer suggestions and information to the choreography team during her internship.A neurobiology concentrator, Murdock explained certain customs to the cast and crew, like how the ankle rattle, something the choreographers considered adding to a production number, is used in the Ugandan dances she learned, and the nuances of the local handshake. She also helped to track the blocking of each dance sequence, and the videotape of some dance numbers.Breaking into the competitive world of theater is notoriously tough, but the interns agreed that their A.R.T. experience has helped them.“It gives you a leg up when you get out of college if you’ve already had the chance to work in a professional production environment,” said Murdock, who hopes to pursue a career in dance after graduation. She added that Paulus’ reputation as a dynamic director was quickly confirmed. “I had heard about her and how amazing she is to work with … and it’s all true.”As one of the two stage management interns working with the show, the job of Jumai Yusuf ’16 during rehearsals was to help manage the sets’ moving parts and props, and to take detailed notes about where items needed to go at any point in the show.At Harvard, Yusuf, a neurobiology concentrator, has managed, produced, or directed student productions. But she said being in the room watching and helping a professional show come to life was something different.“One of the biggest differences is that they’re rehearsing the show, but but they are also working on the script. They are making script changes very often throughout the day. It was really cool to see that happen, and to see what things ended up changing.”And getting to watch Paulus in full directing mode was special.“She is so creative. She makes little changes that I would never have thought of that then greatly enhance the production. … It’s really fascinating to see her work.”Paulus said the challenge of creating a new work is a complex, collaborative process, one that should be an integral part of the learning process at Harvard.“Things are pushed, pulled, rejected, tried on, tried a different way … all of that is really the experience, which is such a theme of what we are talking about at Harvard. How do we provide that experience for our students, that investigation of the process, of the questions you ask, and show [students] how delicate and hard it is to crack something open?”Seniors Lily Glimcher, Susanna Wolk, and Madeline Smith; juniors Brenna McDuffie and Selena Kim; and freshman Kyra Atekwana also worked as A.R.T. interns with the production.
Read Full Story Old habits may die hard, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. David Gordon Lyon, founder of Harvard’s Semitic Museum, Hollis Professor of Divinity and Hancock Professor of Hebrew and other Oriental Languages began keeping a diary in 1870 as an undergraduate and continued throughout the rest of his life. The 38 notebooks Lyon filled capture world events and 40 years of life at Harvard through a unique and personal lens.This rich record, held by the Harvard University Archives, will be soon be more accessible to researchers thanks to a grant to transcribe them from the Lasky/Barajas Dean’s Innovation Fund for Digital and Humanities. The grant was to Professor Peter Der Manuelian, director of the Harvard Semitic Museum, by Faculty of Arts & Sciences Curriculum Services.Lyon’s brief, daily entries document his lectures, research and activities at Harvard as well as his prayers. In 1912, Lyon jotted down a reminder to write a note of condolence to the family of a victim of the Titanic disaster. In 1918, he chronicled local reaction to the end of World War I; Lyon celebrated by going “to the movies,” possibly newsreels.Ephemerae were tucked in the pages — tickets, invoices and colorful birthday cards and Valentines from his wife. “He used them kind of like wallets,” explained Robin McElheny, associate university archivist for collections and public services.
Until late December, and for decades, William R. Crout, S.T.B. ’58, A.M. ’69 — talkative, inquisitive, a gifted listener, and a University man to the core — was a regular perambulator through the Square.Around Harvard, he seemed ever-present — a charming and calm social North Star. “I often would see him crossing the street,” said urban design planner William Doss Suter, whose office looks out over Massachusetts Avenue across from Wadsworth House. “I half expect to see him again.”Crout died on Feb. 11 at age 85, and will be remembered at a 10 a.m. service Friday at the Memorial Church. The service will include everything he loved: a beautiful church, a gathering of friends, and music.Born in tiny Mize, Miss., in 1929, a music and philosophy high honors graduate of Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., Crout was a student pianist in the late 1940s when he performed at Carnegie Hall and as a soloist in Symphony Hall, Boston. From 1951 to 1955, he served aboard a Navy aircraft carrier, travelling the world as a chaplain’s assistant. Afterward, Crout enrolled at Harvard Divinity School, where he befriended and worked with the celebrated German theologian and University Professor Paul Tillich as a translator and editorial assistant.Crout was inspired for life by the relationship with the man who had wrestled modern existentialism and Christian symbolism into a synchronous whole. Crout founded the Paul Tillich Lectures in 1990 through the Office of the University Marshal.Richard M. Hunt, Ph.D. ’60, the retired University Marshal from that era, recalled that for more than a decade his friend oversaw the lecture series from a perch at Wadsworth House. “Bill Crout was a genuine ‘original’ at Harvard,” he wrote in an email. “He was not a faculty member and he was not an employee in any direct sense. But he was an oft-felt presence” — a regular at Morning Prayers, at the Memorial Church’s Sunday services, at Lowell House, and at the Signet Society.For his beloved lecture series, which he curated until last year, Crout raised funds on his own, and, when money allowed, arranged elaborate post-event dinners. Conversation over a good meal, after all, was a near-sacred ritual for Crout, who was devoted to deep talk and fellowship, and to introducing his friends to one another.The lectures, delivered by prominent scholars influenced by Tillich, “were always interesting, and often thrilling,” said his friend Julia Kilmer of Cambridge. Speakers over the years included former Harvard President Nathan M. Pusey, biologist E.O. Wilson, Physics Professor Emeritus Gerald Holton, and former Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall.The fate of the lecture series is now in debate, though every one of Crout’s friends interviewed agreed that keeping it alive would be his fondest wish. “He wanted to be sure that Harvard took religion seriously,” and the lectures provided one avenue for that, said Richard Griffin ’51, a former Jesuit priest who was Harvard’s Roman Catholic chaplain from 1968 to 1975. “He lived by Tillich.”Each of the lectures, held in the Memorial Church once or twice a year, represented a glorious moment for Crout, as did the conviviality each dinner inspired. Of the total lecture experience, said Griffin, “I’m tempted to say it was heavenly for Bill.”HDS has established a fund both to honor Crout’s life, a spokesman said, and to “perpetuate the memory of Paul Tillich at Harvard.”Crout held a series of administrative and lecturing positions at Harvard through the years, including the directorship of the Memorial Church School. He was a scholar, a raconteur, a music aficionado, a writing coach, a regular at Memorial Church affairs, a collector of Asian art, and a member of the venerable Signet Society. “He inhabited many more worlds than any of us know,” said Marina Mary Armstrong Connelly ’12.Crout was also a life coach to students through the Lowell House Senior Common room. Speaking with him, wrote Matthew McCalla ’17 in an email, “I felt as though I were more important, more capable, and more valuable than I was in my conversations with nearly anyone else.” Connelly, an Australian who met him as a 19-year-old freshman, remembered Crout in similar ways. “He was a supporter, a confidant, and a teacher.”“Bill was enormously interested in students, both through Memorial Church and through his presence at Lowell House,” said Suzanne Hamner of Cambridge, who met him in 1966 when her husband, Easley, was a student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. More widely, “he was trying to bring people together,” she said, as a way to honor the kind of welcoming intellectual commons that a university should represent. “He was devoted to Harvard as a living, breathing institution, in the largest sense.”Bill Crout Memorial: Part 1Voice remembrances begin at 16:42, following the organ prelude. Bill Crout Memorial: Part 2Voice remembrances resume with poet Kevin McGrath. View memorial service program [PDF]But his ideals always played out on a human scale. “He had a genius for friendship,” said Kilmer, a friend of Crout’s for 25 years, along with her husband, the painter and art dealer Nicholas Kilmer. They met when Crout happened into an art shop the Kilmers had years ago on Massachusetts Avenue. “Bill walking into your life changes everything,” she said.“We are not very religious people,” said Kilmer of her household, but they represent the diversity of the friends Crout maintained outside the church circles he otherwise frequented. Another non-church venue was the Cambridge Writers’ Group, five or six friends who gathered weekly, starting in 1994, to discuss one another’s work.Sessions usually started with Crout delivering an anecdote, “something about Harvard,” said Elisabeth Hatfield ’58. She recalled — like most of his other friends interviewed — that Crout had a wide repertoire of University stories, back-channel tidbits, and even gossip. By the end of each writing group, Crout summed up his thoughts, from a manuscript’s “great intent,” said Hatfield, “to the finest points of grammar. He was a stickler.”But church venues were often the liveliest for Crout. He was a lifelong Methodist with catholic tastes for a range of Christian services in Cambridge — though he considered Memorial Church his true home, said Suter, as not only a memorial to war dead but as “a place of faith in the heart of a secular university.”Sonia Voskuil, a Cambridge music teacher who met Crout at the Memorial Church 15 years ago, called him “the conscience of the church,” a sentiment that has been making the rounds since his unexpected death. “I miss him very much. His presence. It’s a loss,” she said. “He knew about community, and he passed that on to us.”Voskuil met Crout just after he returned from six months in rehab. He was hit by a car on a Cambridge Common crosswalk, and the accident left him with a limp and one drooping eye ― a facial feature that he managed to turn into part of his charm, a physical analog to his wry humor.Into old age Crout kept the lean frame of the high-mileage jogger he had once been. He was a serious man, and fiercely intellectual. He was also a dapper sartorial holdout. His Brooks Brothers shirts, striped ties, and tweed jackets could make him seem like a dashing apparition from a Harvard long past. Even in winter, said Suter, Crout set off from his apartment near Cambridge Common without a hat, and refused to button his coat.A few hours after his death, Diana Eck and Dorothy Austin — masters at Lowell House who had known Crout since the 1970s, and who were regular visitors in his final days — sent around an email. Soon, an ad hoc memorial service transpired in their quarters. “It was quite a spiritual moment,” said Connelly. “People just came and said what they remembered, what they treasured.”Eck, a scholar of comparative religion and Indian studies, remembered Crout most as a fervent churchgoer and an eager socializer at community discussion groups, teas, high tables, and gatherings with students at Lowell. Every year, she added, he “was the first in line to buy a meal plan,” since the lunches created the ideal social architecture for conversation. But it also told something of his personal life. “I don’t think Bill was a cook,” said Griffin.Suter was among the mourners at the Lowell House mini-memorial. “They put a log on the fire and invited anyone to talk,” he said of Eck and Austin. “Everyone had another piece of his puzzle.”It was not such an easy one to solve, said Griffin, who marveled at how his longtime friend could be so social and so private at the same time. “There’s that component of him that’s very surprising,” he said, noting that to his knowledge, the one-time piano soloist never played for anyone. “He was a good listener, a fond questioner, but a very private person.”Two days before he died, on the last day he could talk, Crout was aware of the blizzards seesawing over the region, dumping heavy snow. He looked over at Suter and asked, “How’s your roof?”When words failed him, Crout devised a code, signing “MP” in the air to ask about Morning Prayers. By Wednesday morning, Feb. 11, he lay still, unresponsive to friends singing hymns at his bedside.But the friends were still there, as they will be again Friday at Memorial Church. Said Hamner, still moved and amazed, “I was holding his hand when he died.”Never married, Crout is survived by a brother, Robert, of Huntsville, Texas. Shortly after his sibling’s death, Robert related what could easily serve as an epitaph for Crout’s grave in Hattiesburg, Miss.: “He was a great family man, even though he had no family of his own.”Gifts in any amount are welcome for the fund set up in Crout’s memory, and to honor Paul Tillich at Harvard. Make checks out to Harvard Divinity School, write “Tillich-Crout Memorial Fund” on the memo line, and send to Harvard Divinity School, ATTN: Loren Gary, 45 Francis Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138.