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Keohane offers ambivalent review of Mona Lisa Smile

President Nan Keohane, a 1961 graduate of Wellesley College and its president from 1981 to 1993, said she was alternately delighted and skeptical about the portrayal of her alma mater in the movie Mona Lisa Smile, which stars Julia Roberts as a spunky feminist teacher showing repressed Wellesley women how to achieve self-liberation.

For Keohane, seeing the film brought back fond memories of her many years at the all-female college. "I loved the scenes at Wellesley," she said. "It was so funny, because I was seeing it with my husband, and of course we lived on that campus for 12 years, and we both loved the campus, and we kept going, 'Look! Look!' and people next to us were going, 'Shh!'"

While generally disagreeing with the film's somewhat harsh treatment of Wellesley, she said its portrayal of women's issues at the college was not entirely baseless.

"I thought it was clearly overstated about the way in which Wellesley in the '50s was such a precious sort of incubator for women to marry high-powered husbands," Keohane said. "But there was a kernel of truth in it, not just about Wellesley but about women's lives in the '50s.... There was a little bit of that, 'We're here with a world that expects most of us to be making our contributions as wives and mothers and volunteers,' rather than saying, 'Okay, what profession are you going to enter?' or, you know, 'Are you pre-med or pre-law? What are you going to do?'"

Keohane's sanguine take differs substantially from comments made by current Wellesley President Diana Chapman Walsh, who called the film "a distorted and demeaning portrayal of our alma mater" in a statement. Other alumnae have expressed similar disappointment with the film.

Keohane did point out that the film's use of the art history department as a backward bastion of tradition was particularly unfair because the department was actually among the first in the country to seriously introduce the study of modern art. "Wellseley is justifiably proud of its record in art history, and that just seemed the unkindest cut of all," she said.

Benevolent computer virus hits Duke

A new virus known as NetSky made its way onto several University computers last week, but its spread has been stymied by University e-mail filters.

University anti-viral systems identified and detained about 25,000 e-mails containing the NetSky virus over a 24-hour period late last week, said Chris Cramer, information technology security officer. The Office of Information Technology switched from cleaning the virus to blocking transmission of containing e-mails during the middle of the week because specialists determined there was no useful content in the e-mails--only viruses and a short message in the e-mail body.

Many students reported receiving mysterious e-mails from University e-mail addresses, which Cramer said resulted from the virus searching infected computers' e-mail address books for both a source and a destination address. Therefore, when a student receives an e-mail from his friend, it does not mean that the friend necessarily has the virus, but that both students are in an infected person's address book.

Cramer said the only known function of the NetSky virus so far is that it cleans up the MyDoom virus, which has caused substantial damage to computers across the globe. The idea of an apparently "benevolent virus" is strange and troubling to Cramer.

"No one is currently reporting negative damage from NetSky," he said. "That makes me very nervous because I don't know why someone would distribute a virus that didn't do something." He said negative effects could be programmed to appear at a later date, and therefore advocated prompt removal of NetSky.

Nicholases' gift 15th largest of 2003

The $72 million pledged by Peter and Virginia Nicholas to the Campaign for Duke was the 15th largest charitable contribution of 2003, according to a survey by the online magazine Slate.

The Nicholases, co-chairs of the Campaign for Duke, made their gift just as the $2.36 billion capital campaign concluded Dec. 31. The gift, the largest in Duke history, will mostly go to the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. Two million dollars is earmarked for the ongoing renovation of Perkins Library.

McDonald's heiress Joan Kroc was first on the "Slate 60" list, with a $1.91 billion bequest to a variety of recipients, including the Salvation Army, National Public Radio and Ronald McDonald House.

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