“There is a new President, new Deans, a new curriculum, new expansion in the sciences, and it looks like this will influence the College for years to come,” said O’Brien. “I have been co-Master for only one year, but it has been a fabulous year. Harvard students are quite amazing, and it’s a great time to be at a wonderful place.”
As deputy dean, O’Brien stands to shoulder some of the responsibilities of Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71.
“I realized earlier in the year that the job I was taking on was my job from last year, [Dean Harry R. Lewis ’68]’s job from last year, and the curricular review. And that was just too much,” said Gross. “So I’ve tried to touch most of the bases this year in the College. But I realize that I had to hire someone to help me divide up this job.”
Gross said that he thinks it is essential that College administrators are involved in the College.
According to a press release from the College, O’Brien will “oversee all aspects of College life.” Gross described her position as a sort of “chief of staff,” or “executive dean of the Faculty.”
“I’ll be working with all the associate deans, and I will be working as liaison to a couple of parts of the College such as UHS [University Health Services],” said O’Brien. “I will also be working with the Registrar, the Freshman Dean’s Office, OCS [Office of Career Services], and I hope to be working with students.”
In addition, O’Brien will continue to serve as co-Master of Currier House, and will co-chair the Administrative Board with Gross.
“I would say that the Ad Board is a really important part of the undergraduate system at the College, so I am pleased to be part of it,” said O’Brien.
She said that though she has not yet sat on the Ad Board, she is open to the idea of including students as members.
“In general, I have found students on committees to be fabulous contributors,” she said. “We would not have had as good of a Hilles report without them.”
O’Brien will assume official responsibilities as deputy dean on August 1, but she said that there are many aspects of her job that remain unclear.
“I think that some of [the duties] have yet to be determined,” she said. “This is a brand new position...and what I will do within the first months is to figure out what my priorities are based on talking to others.”
LEADING FROM EXPERIENCE
O’Brien comes into the office of deputy dean after many years of management experience as dean of the Simmons School of Management, an institution which, according to its website, is a business school that is “dedicated to educating women for power and leadership.”