The John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum was packed to the rafters Wednesday evening (Nov. 17) as the Harvard Kennedy School and its Institute of Politics hosted a public address by America’s highest ranking officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, now in his second term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.In that role, the 46-year Navy veteran is the chief military adviser to the president, the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council.Mullen, in a uniform tight with braid and medals, opened his remarks on a democratic note — calling on all those who are serving in the military, or who have served, to stand for a round of applause. At least half the crowd at the forum’s floor level rose from their seats.Applause also followed a brief introduction by Harvard President Drew Faust, who took the opportunity to make a clear statement about her desire to have the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program recognized on campus.That will be possible, she indicated, once the policy excluding gays from the military — or forcing them to lie about themselves — is abolished.“I want Harvard to be able to embrace both integrity and opportunity, both service and inclusion,” said Faust. “I want to be the president of Harvard who sees the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ because I want to be able to take the steps to ensure that any and every Harvard student is able to make the honorable and admirable choice to commit him- or herself to the nation’s defense.”Mullen, who is opposed to a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that encourages dishonesty, indicated the military would welcome an ROTC chapter at Harvard. “I think it’s incredibly important,” he said later, “to have ROTC in institutions like this.”As for the policy itself — the subject of a Pentagon study since March — the best solution would be one that is done “congressionally,” he said.The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — present and difficult — get all the attention, said Mullen, but thinking about the future of the military is important, too. He outlined three conclusions he has reached about the proper use of military force: That it is a good “first tool” in resolving conflicts, but never the only one; that when force is used it should be in a way that is “precise and principled”; and that military force should be “iterative” — in line with — political action.The last point was at the heart of Mullen’s brief address, “The Interplay of Policy and Strategy.”Most wars are marked by this interplay, flexibility, and change, said Mullen, who offered a few examples. Lincoln waited until midway through the Civil War to free the slaves — when it provided a material advantage to Union forces. Truman, determined to open the whole Korean peninsula after battlefield successes in 1950, changed course when massed Chinese troops changed the balance.“War is not predetermined, nor is it linear in shape,” said Mullen, who began his career as an anti-submarine officer off the coast of Vietnam. “War is discovery of the most lethal sort.”The interplay of strategy and policy in war requires the United States to be flexible to new facts and conditions — to “sense and adjust” along the way, he said.Mullen praised President Obama for “his understanding of the changing nature of war,” and said that in Afghanistan and Iraq, for now, “we have the right resources in place, and the right leaders in charge.”He added that the emphasis in those war zones has shifted from defeating Al Qaeda to training police and armed forces as combat strategies make way for policies that encourage development and good governance. But any advances, said Mullen, remain “fragile and reversible.”The admiral also touched on two other realities of war: money and the consequences of battle once veterans return home.As for the first: “Wars are seldom won on the cheap,” said Mullen. In 1940 dollars, World War II cost $300 billion — but that is the equivalent of $5 trillion today.That war two generations ago also cost 1 million casualties and more than 300,000 American combat deaths.In present-day U.S. wars there is a human toll that will play out over decades — and only some of that toll will be helped by what Mullen called “the sea of good will.”The fate of veterans will be “the defining public policy issue of our era,” he said — with stakes “that go beyond the comfort of the classroom.”During a question-and-answer session, Mullen acknowledged that civilian casualties are “a hugely impactful issue,” and that such casualties can create more terrorists. “Our desire is not to create more,” said Mullen. “In reality, we can’t kill our way to victory.”The war zones occupy “80 percent” of his time, but there are other concerns. Among them are the possibility of nuclear weapons in Iran and the mystery of the Chinese military, which invites little cooperation with American forces. “I can’t divine what their strategic interest is,” Mullen said. “That has us concerned, and everybody in the region concerned.”
Niha Jain comes from Shreveport, La., but her thoughts are often of India, where she was born. When she heard about a village on the outskirts of New Delhi where many women are forced into prostitution, she felt compelled to help, even though she was half a world away. She partnered with a couple of her classmates and raised $20,000 to fund sewing and embroidery training for the village women so they would have another way to make a living.“I have been passionate about women’s issues since middle school, when I began volunteering at a local shelter for victims of domestic violence,” she said. “I decided to get involved in India because I wanted to help a vibrant community of women realize their full potential with new job opportunities.”Jain’s passion for making a difference was rewarded last week when she and classmate Anthony Hernandez ’12 were named Truman Scholars as college juniors who have demonstrated “exceptional leadership potential” and are “committed to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education or elsewhere in the public service.” The award, which provides up to $30,000 for graduate school, is given annually to students from about 50 U.S. colleges and universities. This year, Jain and Hernandez were two of only 60 winners chosen from a pool of 602 nominees.“I’m very pleased to hear that the Truman Foundation has recognized two of our undergraduates for their service and their potential to be leaders in the nonprofit sector,” said Harvard College Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds. “On behalf of the faculty and staff of Harvard College, I congratulate Anthony and Niha on this remarkable achievement.”Hernandez’s passion is for education, particularly efforts to improve inner-city schools. He spent last summer recruiting students for the new KIPP Stand Academy charter school in North Minneapolis.“It was my first immersive experience in the world of urban education,” he said. “Because the school was new, we had to recruit a new class of fifth-graders from African-American neighborhoods in North Minneapolis. I spent a lot of time at local recreation centers, churches, and even radio stations, talking about the school and convincing parents to enroll their kids. It was like running a political campaign, only the target voters were fifth-graders.”Hernandez’s public service work is not limited to education. He has also worked with a U.S.-China relations organization and has been an intern for U.S. Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota. On campus, Hernandez is president of the College chapter of Students for Education Reform, “an organization that mobilizes a new generation of leaders … focused on closing the achievement gap and ensuring an excellent education for all children.”Both of Harvard’s Truman Scholars have big plans for the future. This summer, Jain and a team of faculty from the Harvard School of Public Health will return to India to implement EduGage, a short-message service (SMS) system that turns cellphones into tools for monitoring and improving the education delivery chain.“Our initial measure of success is simply participation,” Jain said. “In the long term, we want to improve the quality of education in the schools. That means higher attendance rates, more girls in school, more transportation, etc.”Hernandez will spend much of the fall in the classroom of a Cambridge public school in order to complete the practicum portion of the teacher certification process. He hopes to land a position in an inner-city school when he graduates from Harvard next year, an ambition he developed in part from observing the impact that education has had on his family.“Education has always been a gateway to opportunity in my family,” he said. “My grandfather on my mother’s side went to college on the GI Bill. My dad was the first in his family to go to college. The role models in my life have always been teachers too: my mom, my high school choir teacher, and Congressman Walz all taught public school.”Jain and Hernandez say that their time at Harvard has only strengthened their commitment to nonprofit work. Hernandez said the college experience has been a great privilege; one that he feels obligated to share through service.“No matter what kind of background you come from, going to Harvard is an amazing opportunity,” he said. “I don’t think everyone has to work in a nonprofit, but it’s a shame not to give something back to the community and to people in need.”
Christina Gao wanted one thing, and one thing only: McDonald’s.It was the evening after the Four Continents competition in Japan, and the Harvard College freshman, who has been racing toward the top of the figure skating world, needed her fast-food fix — a salty counterpoint to the discipline, travel, and sacrifice a career in athletics demands, a career that recently led Gao to make the difficult decision to take a yearlong leave from Harvard to dedicate herself to Olympic training.Gao placed fourth in the Four Continents competition, and got her reward in the form of a Big Mac. She then boarded a plane back to Boston, where she’s continuing her training, and where the busy Harvard world is just a train ride away.“It wasn’t an easy decision,” said Gao, who also recently placed fifth at the nationals. “I wasn’t able to work out my courses to fit my schedule, and so I decided to take this year to train. Harvard will always be here for me, but the chance to try for the Olympics doesn’t happen very often.”Raised in Cincinnati, Gao began skating when she was 7. “It began as just an after-school activity,” she recalled, “but started growing into more than that, and soon I was training three or four hours a day.”As a high schooler, Gao uprooted to Toronto, where she could focus on training, taking courses through online correspondence, and traveling to 11 countries over the past few years while competing with Team USA.When she visited Harvard to skate in An Evening With Champions, “I knew this was where I wanted to be,” she giddily confessed.Gao’s down-to-earth personality could be attributed to her Midwestern roots. She offers no pretense about her concentration of choice: “I have no clue,” she said. “There are so many neat things to dive into and I’m excited to have the opportunity to discover what I’m passionate about.”But Gao is passionate about skating, its peaks and pitfalls. “It’s really hard most of the time. I’m always tired and sore, and sometimes I don’t think I can handle it. But in the end, I always seem to push through, I think because I truly love it,” she said.“I’ve had an amazing time at Harvard so far. I had to balance skating and school, which was hard at first, but very rewarding. I found a nice balance between the two. School kept my mind sharp, while skating kept me physically sharp. I’d train three hours in the morning, go to class, and then go back to the rink for another hour of training. It was definitely tough, and sometimes I wanted to give up, but I’m glad I pushed through.”As Gao moves forward with the 2014 Olympics in mind, she’ll be contending not just with competitors, but herself. “I get really nervous when I compete,” Gao said.To counter that, like many athletes, she has some superstitious practices (though fewer, she said, than she used to): “I always put my left skate on first, and I usually try to take a nap before I compete.”Another necessary ritual? McDonald’s, of course — post-competition, at the airport, before the flight home.So far, it all seems to be working. Gao garnered a silver medal at Skate America in 2012, and that year placed fifth in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Oprah Winfrey, who has consistently used her success as a talk show host and media entrepreneur to promote education, civic engagement, and charitable works, will be the principal speaker at the Afternoon Exercises of Harvard’s 362nd Commencement.“Oprah’s journey from her grandmother’s Mississippi farm to becoming one of the world’s most admired women is one of the great American success stories,” said Harvard President Drew Faust. “She has used her extraordinary influence and reach as a force for good in the world, with a constant focus on the importance of educational opportunity and the virtues of serving others.”Winfrey’s nationally syndicated television show ran for more than two decades, drawing an audience of more than 40 million viewers a week in the United States and reaching 150 countries around the world. She has risen to become one of the world’s leading media executives through her production company, Harpo Studios, the magazine “O, The Oprah Magazine,” and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, which debuted in 2011.She has launched and led a wide array of educational, civic, and charitable pursuits. The book club bearing her name has stimulated reading worldwide and featured many authors who might otherwise have been overlooked. Her advocacy spurred the 1993 passage of federal legislation, known as the “Oprah Bill,” to establish a national database of convicted child abusers. Oprah’s Angel Network, a public charity formed in 1998, raised funds to establish dozen of schools, to support women’s shelters, to build youth centers, and to provide relief after Hurricane Katrina, among other projects.Through her eponymous private foundation, she has awarded hundreds of grants to organizations that support education and the empowerment of women, children, and families worldwide. The foundation supports such initiatives as the Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program, which grants scholarships to students committed to using their education to give back to their communities, and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, an independent school dedicated to educating girls from all nine of South Africa’s provinces. The school recently graduated its second class of young women, all of whom plan to attend college.“Oprah Winfrey is an inspiration to people around the world who care about opening minds and serving the common good,” said Carl F. Muller, president of the Harvard Alumni Association. “I know our alumni will value the opportunity to hear from her in May.”Winfrey will speak on May 30 during Commencement day’s Afternoon Exercises, which serve as the annual meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association. The exercises will take place in the Tercentenary Theatre of Harvard Yard, between Memorial Church and Widener Library.
5Students feast! 6Students James Damiano (clockwise from left), Jurgen Kameniku, John Holland-McCowan, Henney Sullivan, Jonathan Young, and Jacob Montgomery eat on the patio. 3Christopher Valenti (from left), Peter Grogan, Henney Sullivan, and Nicola Maasdorp watch as the lamb is roasted. 8Students peruse — and pluck from — the dessert table. 2Courtney Evans of Harvard University Dining Services marinates a lamb on a spit for the GreekFest dinner. On the patio at Pforzheimer House, facing the lively Radcliffe Quad, the odd sight of a lamb roasting on a spit grabbed passersby’s attention. For the fourth consecutive year, the PfoHo dining services staff helped students and staff celebrate GreekFest by creating a delicious feast on May 1. In addition to the lamb, they cooked spanakopita, authentic Greek salad, a mezze bar of appetizers, baklava, and rice pudding. The celebration falls the week before Greek Orthodox Easter, celebrated this year on May 5.Students filled plates and sat at tables covered in blue and white tablecloths to pay homage to the Greek flag. Outside, the warm weather and the greening of the Quad signaled spring’s return.Pforzheimer House Master Nicholas Christakis explained in an email to students what lamb in the spring signifies to Greek culture: “The idea behind a lamb roast is to celebrate the annual greening of the countryside with a ritual sacrifice of a new lamb. For millennia, the Greek diet was (and still is) organized around religious festivals, many of which involve fasting and the complete absence of dairy and meat for weeks at a time. In fact, some have hypothesized that the unusually high life expectancy of the Greek people comes in part from these periodic fasts from animal products. So, the traditional lamb roast signifies the coming of spring and an expression of gratitude for nature’s abundance.” 4Alex Nesbitt (from left), Nadia Armouti, and Kenyatta Smith — all Class of ’15 — enjoy some Greek delights. 1Baklava and Greek cookies were two of the sweet temptations available at Pforzheimer House’s annual GreekFest. 7House Masters Nicholas and Erika Christakis and friend Chelsea Link ’12 survey the dining hall. 9Dining Services employee Anabela Pappas (left) and House administrator Sue Watts admire the baklava.
The rise of cardiovascular disease in two rapidly growing countries—Mexico and Brazil—was the focus of a symposium organized by Swiss Re and Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) on October 15-16, 2013 at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, Mass. Both institutions commemorated landmark birthdays at the event, as 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of Swiss Re and the 100th anniversary of HSPH.Public health experts, academics, and insurers were among those who attended the symposium, titled “The Impact of Cardiovascular Risk Factors on Healthy Lifespan and Mortality in Brazil and Mexico.” Nearly a dozen HSPH faculty members were among the more than 20 speakers who discussed topics related to the global rise in noncommunicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, now the leading cause of death worldwide. Among the other topics were smoking, the role of diet and physical activity, and indoor and outdoor air pollution.In his welcoming address, HSPH Dean Julio Frenk said, “The essence of public health is to understand the relationship between risk factors and health outcomes and to then address the most significant of those risk factors, with the expectation that they will lead to improved health and prevent premature death.” Reinsurance companies such as Swiss Re, he noted, also aim to understand and manage risks. Read Full Story
Read Full Story Black Americans are gaining in life expectancy, according to new federal data. In 1990, the gap between black and white life expectancy was seven years; by 2014, it was down to 3.4 years, with life expectancy at 75.6 years for blacks and 79 years for whites.The gains have come from declines in the suicide rate among black men, and declines in black infant deaths, the black homicide rate, and cancer deaths among blacks.Despite the gains, blacks are still at a major health disadvantage compared with whites, according to David R. Williams, Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Williams said in a May 8, 2016 New York Times article that the excess in premature deaths among blacks is the equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every day.“We have had this peculiar indifference to this unprecedented loss of black lives on a massive scale for a very long time,” he said. “That to me is the big story.”Read the New York Times article: Black Americans See Gains in Life Expectancy
Rakesh Khurana, the Danoff Dean of Harvard College, also addressed the graduates, the first class that has only known his leadership, and he urged them to consider how they use technology as they move into life.“When you leave Harvard and find yourself in new situations, facing new challenges without a built-in community surrounding you, it may be harder to avoid the pull of new technology,” he said.Though it may be tempting and habitual, Khurana warned seniors not to reflexively hide behind screens to avoid stress or uncomfortable situations . He also urged them not to let the lure of technology’s convenience, efficiency, and ubiquity shift their attention away from what’s in front of them and shape and narrow their choices.“Be the author and owner of your own transformation,” he said.A small group of seniors were recognized during the Class Day celebration. Harvard orator Jin K. Park and ivy orator Caronia Brettler spoke about the ups and downs of their College experiences. Friends offered memories of Luke Tang and Alex Patel, class members who died in 2015 and 2017, respectively.Karely Osorio and Leen Al Kassab were named winners of the Ames Award, which is given to seniors whose display of heroic character and enthusiasm in helping others had gone unacknowledged — but not unnoticed.Class Day is an intimate, less formal gathering just for the seniors. Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was to be the first student-chosen Class Day speaker but was killed by an assassin in Memphis, Tenn. His widow, Coretta Scott King, spoke in his stead.At Schools across campus Wednesday, other graduates heard from politicians — U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) at Harvard Law School and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at Harvard Kennedy School — business dynamos like Carla Harris ’84, M.B.A. ’87, vice chairman and managing director at Morgan Stanley, who spoke at Harvard Business School, and physician and television writer Neal Baer, MD ’96, who was at Harvard Medical School. Have the courage to tell the truth. At a time when truth can feel up for grabs and political journalists debate whether to call a lie a lie, award-winning Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie stressed the importance of truth during her Class Day speech on Wednesday to graduating Harvard seniors, not just for the nation but for themselves.“At no time has it felt as urgent as now that we must protect and value the truth,” she said to applause on a gloriously sunny afternoon in Tercentenary Theatre. “The biggest regrets of my life are those times when I did not have the courage to embrace the truth.”Telling the truth doesn’t mean loudly judging others or starting arguments, and it doesn’t mean that life always works out, because it doesn’t, she cautioned.Part of the effort involves being able to detect flatterers and manipulators, an important life skill, said Adichie, who was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in 2011-12. “But having that detector means you must also use it on yourself, and sometimes the hardest truths are those we have to tell ourselves,” said Adichie, who recalled how an early manuscript of hers was rejected by publishers and how it took time to face the truth that it simply wasn’t good enough.Years later, that’s hard to imagine. Adichie’s writing caught the literary world by storm from the start. “Purple Hibiscus,” her 2003 debut novel, and “Half of a Yellow Sun” (2006) were both widely acclaimed. Her 2013 bestseller, “Americanah,” won the National Book Critics Award for fiction. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker and Granta. Along with that success, Adichie’s reading from her 2013 essay “We Should All Be Feminists,” questioning the socialization of girls but not boys to value marriage, shot her into the pop culture mainstream after Beyoncé sampled a passage in her hit song “Flawless.”,Adichie acknowledged in her remarks that being honest with ourselves isn’t easy.“It is hard to tell ourselves the truth about our failures, our fragilities, our uncertainties. It is hard to tell ourselves that maybe we haven’t done the best that we can. It is hard to tell ourselves the truth of our emotions, that maybe what we feel is hurt rather than anger, that maybe it is time to close the chapter of a relationship and walk away,” she said. “And yet, when we do, we are the better off for it.”Now that college is ending for Harvard’s seniors, telling the truth won’t be quite as easy, she said. The stakes will be higher, and the graduates won’t always find receptive audiences for their views in the real world. Truth-telling will require more mettle, she told the crowd, but do it anyway. And be sure to step back and recognize the “things that get in the way of telling the truth: the empty cleverness, the morally bankrupt irony, the desire to please, the delicate obfuscation and tendency to confuse cynicism for sophistication,” Adichie added.“Be courageous enough to say ‘I don’t know,’” she said. It’s a simple act that some Harvard grads may find hard given the outsized expectations put on their shoulders. Do it anyway, she urged. “Ignorance acknowledged is an opportunity; ignorance denied is a closed door. And it takes courage to admit to the truth of what you do not know.”Adichie also gently skewered the educational mission to train future “citizen-leaders.” (“I often wonder who will be led if everyone is supposed to be a leader?”) It’s a term she professed she didn’t quite understand, and one she compared to that sometime dodge about attending Harvard: “I went to school in Boston.” (“That has to be the most immodest form of modesty. Please, Class of 2018, when you are asked where you went to college, just say Harvard.”)To help find truth, she pressed graduates to “make literature your religion,” by which she meant fiction, poetry, and narrative nonfiction. “Make the human story the center of your understanding of the world,” where people are not abstractions but are “fragile, imperfect, with prides that can be wounded and hearts that can be touched.”,In talking about the obstacles she encounters during her writing process, Adichie reassured seniors that it is perfectly valid to feel a tempest of emotions when they’re pursuing something difficult.“You cannot create anything of value without both self-doubt and self-belief. Without self-doubt, you become complacent; without self-belief, you cannot succeed,” she said.But as important as truth-telling is, it’s not enough, she said. In order for it to make a difference, students must also participate and continue the kind of activism they demonstrated on campus during their Black Lives Matter marches, DACA protests, and the dining workers’ strike, she said.“I know it is terribly cliched to say ‘You must now use this power to change the world,’ but really: You must now use this power to change the world!” she said.She urged her listeners to challenge the “stale assumptions” that undergird America’s cultural institutions and tell fresh stories and champion new storytellers “because the universal does not belong to any one group of people. Everybody’s story is potentially universal; it just needs to be told well.” Also, she said, don’t succumb to the urge of comparing your accomplishments to classmates or feel like you’re not measuring up because they’ve reached some arbitrary resume milestone.“Your story does not have to have a traditional arc,” Adichie said, reciting an Ibo saying that translates to Whenever you wake up, that is your morning.“The world is calling you,” she said. “America is calling you. There is work to be done. There are tarnished things that need to shine again. There are broken things that to be made whole again.” “The world is calling you. America is calling you. There is work to be done. There are tarnished things that need to shine again. There are broken things that to be made whole again.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
10 dental grads give a nation something to smile about Earlier in his career, Donoff led Massachusetts General Hospital’s Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery as chair and chief of service, becoming the first Walter C. Guralnick Distinguished Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. A 1967 graduate of Harvard School of Dental Medicine and a 1973 graduate of Harvard Medical School (HMS), he returned to the Harvard Longwood campus in 1991 when he was appointed dean of HSDM.“His work has built an important bridge between dentistry and medicine,” wrote HMS Dean George Daley in a joint letter with Provost Alan Garber. “Bruce has been widely recognized for caring deeply about students and their success. As an educator and a mentor, Bruce pioneered problem-based learning to help them better understand the fundamental concerns of those seeking treatment and their diseases, all the while stressing that students must listen closely to their patients and treat them with respect,” they added.A passionate advocate for research, Donoff stressed the importance of scientific inquiry in dental education. He led the charge to create more space for laboratories at HSDM and was successful in nearly doubling the School’s footprint with a new research and education building in 2004. His efforts were recognized with the prestigious William J. Gies Foundation Award from the American Dental Education Association in 2004 for outstanding vision by an academic dental institution.“A particularly meaningful tribute to Bruce is the sheer number of dental school deans around the world who recognize him as an innovator and who can also say that they received their degrees from HSDM,” wrote Daley and Garber.In 2014, Donoff launched the HSDM Initiative to Integrate Oral Health and Medicine, an effort intended to improve quality and value throughout the health care system by, in his words, “reuniting the mouth with the rest of the body.”HSDM’s mission reflects his aspiration to break down traditional barriers between oral and systemic health. He ensured that dental students spend time working in community health centers as part of their training and expanded the scope of HSDM’s international presence, helping to launch Rwanda’s first dental school. Most recently, he has led efforts to partner with dental schools in China and Vietnam to assist with curriculum development and workforce training.“Please join me in thanking Bruce for his many contributions to our community — and for his steadfast efforts to advance and strengthen dental medicine at Harvard and beyond,” wrote Bacow.A search for Donoff’s successor will be led by Daley in consultation with HSDM, HMS, and University communities as well as the president and provost. Related Bruce Donoff, dean of Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) for 28 years, announced today that he will step down from the position effective Jan. 1, 2020.Throughout his tenure, Donoff moved HSDM forward with a broad vision for global and community oral health. A skilled oral surgeon and educator, he has been an advocate for the integration of oral health and medicine as a way to ensure improved outcomes for his own patients and dental patients everywhere. He not only shaped the dental curriculum at Harvard but also influenced the way dentistry is taught around the country and the world. He plans to transition to a role on the faculty after Jan. 1.“It has been an honor leading the School and having had the opportunity to work with incredibly talented faculty, students, and staff, all of whom are dedicated to improving human health and advancing our mission,” Donoff said.“I’m grateful to have had a career that allowed me to treat patients, educate students, and advance research, all while being an administrator. It’s rare for a dean to have that opportunity, and I am truly fortunate,” he added.“Bruce and I have been good friends for decades, and I know from my tenure as president of Tufts the extremely high regard in which he is held throughout the academic oral health community,” said Harvard President Larry Bacow. “His personal commitment to academic excellence has shaped his quarter-century as dean, driving the recruitment of extraordinarily talented students, faculty, and staff, and shaping efforts to make oral health care available and accessible to more people across the country and around the world.” University of Rwanda graduates first class of dentists
Over more than a century, the connections have spanned everything from curriculum reform to art collections to trans-Atlantic fellowships When German Chancellor Angela Merkel steps down in 2021 after 16 years, she’ll have been in the job longer than any other leader in the European Union. During that time, a generation of Germans will have grown up knowing mostly only her as leader. They are often called Generation Merkel or the Merkel Generation. The Gazette spoke with a number of German students studying at Harvard, in advance of her visit as Commencement speaker.The German students at Harvard come from major cities such as Berlin, Frankfurt, and Düsseldorf, and from smaller municipalities such as Oeding and Hanover. Many were in grade school when Merkel came to power. Others were young teenagers without a vested interest in politics. Now, looking back at her tenure, they reflect on her abiding and often reassuring presence.A national constant“German living is synonymous with Merkel as chancellor,” said Isaiah Michalski, a Harvard College sophomore from Berlin. He was 7 when Merkel took office. “Every election … it seemed somehow natural that she would win again.” That seemed so natural that in a recent conversation, he continued, all of his German friends came to the same conclusion about 2021: “It is a strange, strange feeling, the idea that she could not be chancellor.”Lara Schenk, a first-year student from Hanover, had a similar take. “I wouldn’t associate any other person with [the chancellorship],” said Schenk, who plays soccer for Harvard. “It’s just been Merkel since I was born, basically, or since I can remember having a leader or listening to the news.”Schenk was 5 when Merkel took power. “It didn’t seem weird to me at all until I started looking at different countries when I was a bit older — like in high school when you start broadening your spectrum of looking at politics. I noticed it’s not like that in all countries where you have the same leader for 14 years.”Still, the subject isn’t something Schenk or her friends generally talk about, she said, because they’ve has grown so accustomed to Merkel. Generation Merkel is not a term with which they identify.“For us, it’s not that big of a deal,” Schenk said. “It’s cool thinking about it now when you’re outside the country and when there’s the potential of her stepping down. That’s only really when you notice how big a deal it is.”,Enduring stability during crisisIn a country that became whole again only 30 years ago, Merkel has not only come to symbolize a national constant, but has given Germans a sense of security, many of the students said, even during times of crisis.“Everything seems very stable when she’s talking” said Karl Oskar Schulz, a first-year student who was 5 when Merkel became chancellor. Schulz works as a program assistant at Harvard’s Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies and as a John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum committee member at the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS).“Growing up, everything always seemed to be all right,” Schulz said.A big contribution to this was Merkel’s calm demeanor in challenging situations and the pragmatic steps she took to handle them, such as during the worldwide financial crisis of 2007‒2008 and when she methodically worked to negotiate a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine in 2015.“From my perspective, there’s real appreciation about her style of dealing with crises and her level of diplomacy,” said Isabel Schünemann, who was 18 when Merkel was first elected.Schünemann is part of the McCloy German Scholars Program, which brings German students to HKS to study in one of its degree programs.Schünemann said she likes that Merkel is “the quiet person in a room full of people” and appreciates how she avoids emotional distractions in making decisions. Merkel doesn’t make a statement just to make it, Schünemann said, maintaining that she is looking for a good solution, not just what’s best for her public image.“It’s the opposite of Donald Trump,” Schünemann said. “For her, we don’t know exactly what’s happening behind the scenes, but she’s having talks with everyone. It’s less about media attention and the public and polarization and making big statements; it’s more about, ‘Let’s calm things down. Let’s figure it out [and] bring people together.’ ”An episode each student mentioned was Merkel’s actions during the 2015 European migrant crisis, when Germany opened its borders to about a million refugees, many of them escaping wars and poverty in Syria, Afghanistan, and other parts of the Middle East and Africa. The period is often referred to as a defining moment in terms of the chancellor’s legacy, in both negative and positive contexts. Germany is still dealing with its ramifications.For David Alexander Paffenholz ’22, Merkel’s response to those times increased his admiration of her.“She was able to keep our country largely together,” Paffenholz said. “She demonstrated to the world that Germany would be willing to take a strong stance in the refugee issue, take in many refugees, and do the best we could to support them.”It wasn’t perfect, he admitted — there were issues with implementation and logistics — but the move reflected a strong moral position, he said. “It wasn’t the game of a politician she was playing there, but rather a really moral action.” Paffenholz followed Merkel’s example. For more than a year, he worked with a refugee family at a local shelter in Düsseldorf to help them understand official government documents, learn German, and integrate into German society.The issue was personal for Michalski, too — his family took in a Syrian refugee. “He’s kind of like my older brother now,” Michalski said.He remembers worrying as members from Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), turned against the migrants as the nation started to feel the strain of the influx — yet he felt reassured by Merkel.“It was almost always calming to know that Merkel had this unique quality of navigating the conservatives who were anti-refugee while still holding onto the human rights point of view and being able to create an open Germany with open borders,” he said.,National pridePoignant moments like these have brought a sense of national pride to many Germans, said Jan Philip Petershagen, a visiting undergraduate student studying business administration who is from Münster and was 7 in 2005.“She’s had quite an impact on the world,” Petershagen said. “As a German citizen, I’m very proud of what she has achieved. [Having been] in other countries, I think Merkel is very well recognized as the leader of Europe through her pragmatism and through her ability to compromise with all people. She has kind of given Germany … a new image and identity toward the outer world that I appreciate.”That image, Petershagen and others said, stands in opposition to the nation’s past as an aggressor in two world wars.“I think it’s always difficult for Germans, given our history, to have that outward pride of our country,” said Paffenholz. “I think she’s been key in continuing to bring Germany forward to a state where we can be proud of our country and the actions we take. In that way, I really do identify Germany with her and especially our stance in the world. I think that really speaks to the development Germany has gone through in the past decades toward the promising situation we’re in now.”Despite their pride, some students voiced a few common criticisms of Merkel. Chief among them was that the chancellor lacks a true political vision for Germany or Europe and that the compromising approach and calm demeanor for which many praised her is not compelling to young Germans.“She’s not very engaging and not very inspiring,” said Schulz, the first-year who works at the Center for European Studies and the Institute of Politics. Schulz believes Merkel is still one of the best chancellors Germany has had, but suggested that her not motivating young Germans may have led many to be uninterested in politics.“I don’t know if you can just blame that on Angela Merkel,” Schulz said. “But I think that if you have a leader who is very calm and never really changes anything and doesn’t really engage in debates, you get a generation of people who are not really interested.”Celina Hollmichel, a first-year from Berlin, had a different take on Merkel as role model.“Seeing a woman in such a leading role has really influenced me,” Hollmichel said. “Even just subconsciously, it’s never been a question whether a woman can lead a state, in our case, because it’s always been a given fact for me. That has influenced how I went on to do things and always went for leadership positions if I thought I would be interested in it. I thought, ‘Oh well, I have the right to.’”She also holds up Merkel’s scientific background as inspiring, since she holds a degree in physics and physical chemistry from the University of Leipzig and a doctorate in quantum chemistry from the German Academy of Sciences.“She goes against any gender stereotypes,” Hollmichel said.A ‘new wind is blowing’Still, Hollmichel and the others agreed that it is time for change in Germany. Ultimately, it is good for the nation that Merkel is stepping down, they said.“It’s a healthy road for democracy to allow new voices to come up and new people to be in power,” said Michalski.Schenk, the first-year soccer player from Hanover, hopes the transition of power is smooth and leads to a change from what she considers “slightly outdated views.”“I think there’s a new wind blowing in Germany,” she said.Kai Dittmann, a John F. Kennedy Fellow who grew up in Lüneburg, was 17 when Merkel became chancellor and is a member of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, the CDU’s main opposition. “I think we should think about term limits,” said Dittman. “There is a problem with the [government] structure and the mindset of voters, including Generation Merkel, if it becomes so that the chancellorship almost becomes synonymous with a person. You think of that person as a natural chancellor. It might be problematic, especially if you are less happy with the chancellor.”Still, he doesn’t deny what Merkel has accomplished during her tenure.“A lot of people from my party consider her as a chancellor who brought Germany to where it is now,” Dittman said. In word portraits, those who know the German chancellor, Harvard’s Commencement speaker, explain her rise to longtime prominence Related Angela Merkel, the scientist who became a world leader The long, deep ties between Harvard and Germany