Hana Gray

She was the President of the University of Chicago during the 1970’s and 80’s. She was also a consummate institutionalist in a way that some might think quaint in these days of social media-driven rage. Here’s a review of her recently published memoir which captures well this characteristic that is so rare among current academics. The operative metaphor is UC run as a modern-day Venetian Republic. Of course modern-day only in the sense of several decades ago and not during the Middle Ages.

Gray compares the University of Chicago’s elaborate governance structure to “the constitution of the Republic of Venice in the late medieval and early modern eras,” but praises it for “offering an invaluable means of garnering advice and discussion on all kinds of issues … with the faculty at large.” Of course, that matters only if one intends to work with one’s colleagues rather than one’s Twitter followers.

Those are the docks of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as I arrived yesterday by ferry. My office here at the MBL is on the opposite side of the Knorr, the large research vessel in the foreground.

Tomorrow, at the MBL Society Meeting, we’ll learn perhaps a bit more about the new affiliation between MBL and the University of Chicago. Ultimately, I’m anticipating it’ll involve some significant transfer of resources to the marine lab in return for a significant degree of control from the University. In any case, it represents a monumental change for the 125 year old MBL.

My take on the economy here is that it’s still in recovery mode. While Martha’s Vineyard was extremely busy, the local businesses (with one key exception) seem to be struggling.