Paul J. McLoughlin: College’s youngest administrator

Assistant Dean Paul J. McLoughlin II might be the College’s youngest administrator—by 18 years—but he’s already begun to make his mark.

In October, McLoughlin was appointed assistant dean of the College in a surprising move, assuming many of the responsibilities formerly held by Coordinator of Student Activities Susan T. Cooke.

Leaders of organizations such as the Black Students Association and the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra originally expressed concern and confusion over the appointment of a new dean. But McLoughlin used his numerous interactions with students to erase any negative feelings they might have harbored.

McLoughlin, 29, has, along with Associate Dean of the College Judith H. Kidd, helped to reshape the relationship between student groups and University Hall by engaging more actively in the planning and coordination of events both on and off campus.

In October, he began behind-the-scenes negotiations to allow student groups to hold off-campus events in clubs and private venues, securing written contracts from owners. Last year, the College temporarily banned club parties following nightclub tragedies in Chicago and Rhode Island, and an injury at a club event over Harvard-Yale weekend.

One month after taking office, McLoughlin was asked to be a member of the safety committee which instituted the Harvard University Campus Escort Program (HUCEP) in response to growing concern over pedestrian safety following a rash of on-campus assaults. The program, which will continue in the fall, has been applauded by students and has been more effective than its defunct predecessor SafetyWalk.

While conducting research for HUCEP, McLoughlin said he did something that Harvard administrators are sometimes slow to do—look to other comparable universities for solutions to common problems.

“HUCEP is one of the things I’m most proud of from this year,” McLoughlin said.

He and Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 were also instrumental in running the 24-hour shuttle trial to determine if there was significant demand for the service, which students had been requesting for years. After two months of the trial, McLoughlin and Gross decided to cut out hours from 4 to 7 a.m when few were riding the shuttle.

McLoughlin also represented University Hall on the QRAC-Hilles Space committee, formed to make suggestions on how students wish to use the Quad Recreational Athletic Center (QRAC) and Hilles Library in preparation for upcoming renovations. McLoughlin led several focus groups with students and organization leaders in order to drum up ideas for uses of the space the committee could consider.

McLoughlin, a first-year proctor in Pennypacker Hall, and his partner were the 82nd same-sex couple to file for marriage in Cambridge.

The summer will provide no respite for McLoughlin. On May 21, McLoughlin and Kidd spent a day off-site rewriting the Handbook for Student Organizations. This fall, McLoughlin will sit on a committee of administrators, students and faculty which will reevaluate Harvard’s extracurricular policies.

Not all student groups have enjoyed the increased meticulousness that McLoughlin has brought to University Hall. Members and trustees of the Harvard Advocate said they were surprised and upset when McLoughlin and other administrators conducted an unexpected walk-through of their 21 South St. building and demanded thousands of dollars in repairs. The University found them in violation of Harvard policies by hosting parties in leased space.

Advocate trustees said they were surprised that McLoughlin has cut back on the unofficial autonomy exercised by the campus’ oldest publication.

“I was surprised that the University should question the ability of student groups to use the Advocate building for parties, because we’ve always done that,” Louis H. Begley ’54 said last month.

—Staff writer Joshua P. Rogers can be reached at jprogers@fas.harvard.edu.