Dear Harvard College Students,
I hope that each of you has had a productive, enjoyable, and restorative summer. The faculty and staff at the College are busily preparing for your return, and we are looking forward to another outstanding academic year. I am writing to share some important updates, to remind you to complete the online training you will need to take in order to register for classes, and to share some thoughts about our upcoming year.
While you’ve been away, the College has made some exciting changes. Our Dean of Students Office (DSO) has officially launched, and Dean of Students Katie O’Dair will be reaching out in the coming days to provide you with more information about this important transition that moves toward an integrated four year residential and co-curricular experience. Our new Dean of Undergraduate Education, Amanda Claybaugh has begun her tenure and is hard at work to ensure that our education sets the standard for liberal arts and sciences education. Dean Claybaugh and her team will be overseeing the launch of the new Gen Ed curriculum, developing exciting new freshmen seminars, and piloting new approaches to strengthen our advising programs. And we also have a new Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education, Sindhumathi Revuluri, who's responsible for ensuring that the academic experience is equitable and inclusive for students of all backgrounds. She oversees the Bureau of Study Council and the Accessible Education Office, and will be working with departments and individual instructors, on everything from classrooms to curricula.
In order for you to best take advantage of your educational opportunities, Harvard must strive to be a strong and inclusive community. The College is committed to ensuring that you are all able to fully participate in your educational experience so that you may explore your capabilities and interests and may develop your full intellectual and human potential. With that in mind, I want to draw your attention to our community’s values, as articulated last spring by the Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging:
- Respect for the rights, differences, and dignity of others.
- Honesty and integrity in all dealings.
- Conscientious pursuit of excellence in our work.
- Accountability for actions and conduct in the community.
- Responsibility for the bonds and bridges that enable all to grow with and learn from one another.
As part of our commitment to these values, Harvard College has made mandatory the completion of the online training, “Supporting a Harassment Free Community.” You recently received an email from Emily Miller and Brian Libby, the College’s Title IX Coordinators, with a link to complete this training by Tuesday, September 4, 2018 to enroll in Fall 2018 classes.
As you prepare to return to campus, you may be following the news reports about the admissions lawsuit. Some of these reports may have raised questions for you about how or why you were accepted to Harvard. You may also have read commentary questioning the integrity of the undergraduate admissions process and whether colleges and universities really need a diverse student body to fulfill their educational missions.
I believe strongly that diversity and excellence go hand in hand, and the Harvard faculty has recently affirmed the value of our diverse campus community. And let me be very clear – every one of you belongs at Harvard College. You are not just your SAT/ACT test score, nor are you just your high-school G.P.A. You are not just your race, ethnicity, gender, religion, concentration, sport, or legacy status. You are your passions and your intellectual curiosity. You are your experiences and your dreams (which are as varied as your imaginations). You are vibrant and self-motivated. You will always have a home in Harvard’s diverse community. You are Harvard.
As the Dean of the College, I have made it my highest priority to ensure that the College community is a place that embraces you (regardless of your gender, the color of your skin, the person you love, your economic status, the religion you worship, political views, or whether your parents went to college), challenges you, and exposes you to new ideas. If you have questions about the lawsuit you can access more information at this website.
Higher education is at a unique inflection point. We are living in a world where the central values of a liberal arts and sciences education—truth, reason, and civil disagreement—are being challenged. And yet we are all here because we believe these very values are essential to our shared future. As you contemplate how you will spend your time on campus this year, I hope you will consider what role you will play in creating the society you want to live in— and in repairing what needs to be fixed.
I am so looking forward to your return next week – our campus is not the same without you.
I’ll see you soon.