Dear Harvard College Students,
I write today to offer you my warm greetings now that the 2017-2018 academic year is officially underway!
As I start my second year as your Dean of Students, I find myself remembering last year and what it felt like to be new to Harvard College — meeting new students and colleagues, learning Harvard acronyms, and navigating our beautiful campus. I cherished those first few weeks and months because during that time so many people reached out to show their support, lend a hand, and welcome me to this community. In being new, I learned what Harvard was really all about.
As you settle in to your dorms, your Houses, and soon your classes and activities, you are all experiencing a sense of newness to some degree. Freshmen, you may be experiencing excitement, apprehension, or awe that you are here at this incredible place. Sophomores, you are joining a new House community for the first time — living outside the Yard and experiencing new, larger residential communities. Juniors and Seniors, while you are likely more sure-footed, you too are getting ready to explore new depths in your intellectual life, your friendships, and in the activities and interests you have chosen to explore. Regardless of your class year or the new challenges you are facing, please know that every member of this community — fellow students, College staff, and faculty are here to support you.
As you learn and live here at Harvard College, I want you to know that the Office of Student Life (OSL) is staffed with experienced and talented individuals who are ready to provide you with the resources and support you need to get involved in Harvard life and to complement your academic programs. We are guided by our core values of inclusion, support, partnership, respect, and excellence. OSL staff are continuously looking for ways to help you engage on campus — with each other, with your student organizations and Houses, and with emergent issues both on campus and within our society. In short, OSL is here to support you in building the community you seek to create.
Because we believe strongly that this is your campus experience, OSL seeks to broadly engage with you about it. All OSL departments will hold office hours on Friday afternoons from 2:00 - 4:00 pm at their respective office locations. Further, as Dean, my office hours will typically be held on Fridays from 2:00 - 4:00 pm in my University Hall office. I look forward to greeting people in University Hall, as I have heard over the past year that many students think the doors are fake (they are not)! Please make an appointment to see me via email.
Harvard College is committed to supporting you in your efforts to host safe and inclusive campus social events and programming. We are especially grateful to President Drew Faust for providing funding again this academic year for use toward student life initiatives and programming, the majority of which will be allocated or overseen by students. In the coming weeks, Associate Dean for Student Engagement Alex Miller will communicate to you the wide-range of opportunities (including student-driven initiatives) available to you this fall and throughout the academic year. I encourage you to get involved.
I want to take this opportunity to share with you two staff announcements in OSL, which will serve to bolster our work of supporting diversity and inclusion, which is central to the mission of Harvard College.
Roland S. Davis has been appointed as Associate Dean of Students for Diversity and Inclusion. Dean Davis comes to Harvard most recently from Simmons College, where he has served as the Executive Director of their Center for Student Success since 2016. Dean Davis previously served as Associate Dean of Students at Bates College. He succeeds Dr. Emelyn dela Peña, who left in October of 2016 to join the Washington University at St. Louis. Dean Davis will begin his role October 2, 2017.
Robin M. Johnson has been appointed as the Director of Diversity Education and Support. Ms. Johnson comes to OSL from the Bureau of Study Counsel (BSC) where she has served as an Academic Counselor since 2014 and succeeds Dr. Loc Truong, who left Harvard in June of this year for a position at MIT. Ms. Johnson will begin her role September 11, 2017. I am truly excited about the year ahead. It is a privilege to be here at Harvard, working with and for all of you, and I am grateful every day for the opportunity.
Please feel free to reach out to say hello. I look forward to meeting you, if I have not done so already!
Dean Katie O’Dair
Dean of Students