May 16, 2015
Dear Harvard College Students,
With your finals nearly completed and summer approaching, I have been reflecting on my “freshman” year as your Dean: taking on this new role, taking stock of our collective experiences, and contemplating our future work together.
From welcoming the freshman class to campus, to cheering our teams at the Harvard-Yale and other games, to experiencing the re-opening of the Harvard Art Museums, to preparing for Commencement, this year has been transformative for me. It has been a profound learning experience to rise to the expectations of being a “Harvard Dean,” and along the way I have felt my own limitations and anxieties in trying to serve this talented and passionate community. But above all, I have been grateful to all of you for your investment in making Harvard an intellectually vibrant and inclusive community where each of us can flourish.
We have many accomplishments and people to celebrate at this time of the year, and I cannot possibly do justice to all of them here. I am especially proud of the work we have done together this year to create the College’s first Honor Code and the Harvard College Honor Council. This work reaffirms that academic integrity and intellectual engagement are the cornerstone of the Harvard College experience.
The collaborations between our student-led groups and the College’s staff this year demonstrate how much we can accomplish when we work together across the College. Our cooperation led to, among other successes, the Bridging and Belonging Grant Programs, the new Spring Break Meals Program, the Oasis end-of-winter celebration in the Science Center, and the development of Omni, a new, College-only, mobile app that will connect students to campus resources and College-wide events. I look forward to continuing this collaborative work next year.
Finally, I am very grateful to my faculty and administrative colleagues for their valued advice and mentorship. I am especially thankful to my colleagues in the Harvard University Police Department, Harvard University Dining Services, and members of the University, FAS, and College staff for their tireless dedication to keeping our community together during some especially challenging circumstances this year.
As we approach Commencement and the end of the academic year, I hope you join me in celebrating all we have accomplished this year. But we have much more to do. Harvard has excelled for four centuries because we have refused to remain complacent. We spring forward with energy and imagination to lead in a changing and challenging world. We honor Harvard by renewing its traditions in ways that reflect our progress as a society. As we look towards next year, I am calling on each of us—students, faculty, and staff—to collectively share responsibility for making sure that Harvard’s classrooms, Houses and the Yard, and social spaces represent us at our best. This will require us to stretch, to challenge certain practices, and to move beyond our comfort zones as we strive to meet the needs of our diverse community and the society we serve.
I have greatly enjoyed my first year as your Dean. The opportunity to engage with and learn from you, and to serve a higher purpose has been both humbling and empowering. I look forward to congratulating our graduating seniors at Commencement, and in the meantime, I want to wish you a restorative and productive summer.