Dear Harvard College Class of 2022,
Congratulations on your admission to Harvard, and welcome to this incredible, multi-generational and inclusive community of learning! The faculty and staff at the College have been busy preparing for your arrival, and we are looking forward to beginning the new academic year with you. Dean of Students Katie O’Dair will be reaching out to you separately to give you information about how the new Dean of Students Office will support your transition to Harvard and your experience here over the next four years. In the meantime, I want to share some thoughts with you about our community and about the journey you will soon begin.
Harvard College is committed to ensuring that you are all able to fully participate in your educational experience. In order for you to take full advantage of your educational opportunities, Harvard must strive to be a strong and inclusive community. With that in mind, I want to draw your attention to Harvard University’s community’s values:
- 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 requires each student to complete the online training courses, “Supporting a Harassment Free Community” and “Harvard Proof.” Supporting a Harassment Free Community is an online course developed by our Title IX Office that takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. Harvard Proof is an online, science-based educational course developed by our Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Services (AODS) and their Drug and Alcohol Peer Advisers (DAPAs) that takes approximately one hour to complete. You recently received an email from Dean Brandt asking you to complete these courses by August 17, 2018.
As you prepare for your arrival on campus, I want to encourage you to consider how you will use your time here, where you will devote your talents, and what you might do to contribute to the Harvard community. There is no one “best” way to experience a Harvard education, and you will have many choices to make. While it might be easy to continue familiar patterns in a new place, I want to remind you that your past does not define you. At Harvard, you will write your own story, and in the process, you will help write the next chapter of Harvard’s story as well.
I also want to encourage you to let go of the idea of “perfection.” Harvard is not perfect. It is made up of imperfect human beings, thankfully. And no one here expects you to be perfect or to have all the answers already. The best way to learn is to be willing to say “I don’t know” and “Could you help me?”
You are part of one of the most diverse classes in Harvard’s history, and when you arrive, you will find that our curriculum is alive and evolving to broaden the knowledge and perspectives we teach. I hope you will seek out the courses that interest you the most and consider enrolling in one of our incredible Freshman Seminars this year. These seminars offer you the opportunity to explore in depth a topic that interests you and to work closely with a faculty member and a small group of students.
In recent weeks, you may have been 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.
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, 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.
During my four years as Dean of Harvard College, I have seen our community come together in good times and in challenging times — pushing one another to become more thoughtful and engaged citizens and supporting one another in times of need. As we continue to seek new ways to bring our community together this fall and throughout the 2018-2019 academic year, my office will be using digital communications and social media, including Instagram, web pages, and other channels to facilitate collaborative and transparent communication with the Harvard community.
I am so looking forward to your arrival. I’ll see you soon.