FDO’s Senior Proctor To Depart

DeGreeff says dorm veterans are a thing of the Yard’s past

Crimson/nathaniel E. Jedrey

MATTHEW J. DeGREEFF ’89 sits outside his Greenough Hall residence with his Chesapeake Bay retriever BIX. DeGreeff will leave Cambridge after 17 years at Harvard, including nine as a first-year proctor.

Matthew J. DeGreeff ’89, the man who holds the distinction of being the longest-serving first-year proctor, announced last week that he is leaving Harvard.

His departure after nine years as a proctor is just another sign that the era of the veteran proctor has ended at the Freshman Dean’s Office (FDO). In recent years, the FDO has seen shorter tenures for both proctors and assistant deans.

DeGreeff said that while the FDO faces “a lot of natural turnover” among proctors—who he said are increasingly graduate students looking to move on in a couple of years—it would be wise to hire some who will stay long enough to provide institutional memory to an FDO in constant flux.

“I think you need a mix of people, [including some] who will stay around for four or five years,” he said. “I’ve worked with four assistant deans in my nine years, and I think I’ve been helpful to them.”

Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 said new hiring practices naturally lead to fewer veteran proctors.

“Certainly to the extent that we now recruit more proctors who have families, or want to have families, it shouldn’t be surprising that they don’t stay in the Yard forever,” Lewis wrote in an e-mail yesterday.

DeGreeff is, indeed, a family man—in fact, his son Jeremiah was born on first-year move-in day in September 2000.

DeGreeff has been at Harvard for 17 years—nearly half his life—first as a student, then as an admissions officer and proctor. But this June—after nine years of watching more than 300 Harvard first-years enjoy his famous home-baked cookies—Harvard’s most senior first-year proctor will finally bid adieu to his Greenough Hall suite.

DeGreeff, who currently serves as assistant director of financial aid and senior admissions officer, will join the Middlesex School in Concord as the director of college guidance, assistant head of a boys’ dorm and basketball coach—almost two decades after playing on Harvard’s varsity team.

DeGreeff came to Harvard as a first-year in Greenough in 1985. After graduation, he returned as a proctor to Greenough, where he currently lives with his wife Joyce, director of the First-Year Urban Program, son Jeremiah and Chesapeake Bay retriever Bix.

“Matt DeGreeff, and Joyce, and Bix, and more recently Jeremiah, are such a part of the College that it’s hard to imagine the Yard without them,” Dean of Freshmen Elizabeth Studley “Ibby” Nathans wrote in an e-mail.

DeGreeff said that he has enjoyed his time at Harvard but that his growing family and his completion of a master’s degree at the Graduate School of Education last year have led him to consider a change of venue.

“It’s time that I leave my Harvard cocoon and try something new,” DeGreeff said. “I felt the need to try something new so I started looking at jobs at boarding schools and small colleges.”

DeGreeff said leaving Harvard will have its down sides, too.

“I’ve grown up here professionally,” he said. “I will miss all my friends, deans and fellow proctors.”

Staff members at Annenberg Hall, where first-years take their meals, said they will miss seeing DeGreeff and his family at mealtimes.