Rinere Named New Head of Advising

From her desk at Princeton, Monique Rinere, Harvard’s first associate dean of advising, is all ears.

Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 announced Rinere’s appointment at this Tuesday’s faculty meeting, which was devoted to discussion of undergraduate advising.

Rinere, currently a residential-college dean at Princeton, will become the College’s first associate dean of advising programs in February.

The post, an attempt to coordinate Harvard’s advising resources and foster more interaction between students and their advisers, was included among recommendations from the Harvard College Curricular Review’s Committee on Advising and Counseling.

On the phone from Princeton yesterday, Rinere said she plans to conduct a “talking tour” of the campus to better understand Harvard’s academic and cultural landscape before she begins to make changes. She even got a jump start on her talking tour by asking this reporter for her thoughts on advising at Harvard.

“I have to get a read on how the culture at Harvard works,” Rinere said. “I plan to talk to as many students, faculty, and administrators as possible.”

Student ratings for Harvard’s advising system have been relatively low in recent years, prompting specific suggestions for improvement as part of the ongoing Curricular Review.

“Advising is extremely important, so it is very important to have a high-profile person with some authority to work to coordinate and improve it,” History Department Chair and Folger Fund Professor of History Andrew D. Gordon wrote in an e-mail.

Rinere said her short-term plans include coordinating all of the College’s information about advising into a single, student-accessible place and designing a peer-advising system.

Rinere also said she wants to involve more faculty in the process and to revise advisor training before September of next year.

She added that improved advising would help to ensure that students choose classes and departments appropriate for their interests and abilities.

“We know that well-advised students make better choices—choices that reflect who they are, rather than what they should be,” she said. “Wholehearted engagement makes stronger departments.”

Rinere also said she would use the resources created by the Advising Committee, including their extensive calendar of advising duties, to further her work,

“I don’t think that [the calendar is] a document that has to be followed to the letter, but some very knowledgeable people put it together,” she said.

Following the recommendations of the Advising Committee, Rinere said she found contact between students and advisers, in both formal and informal settings, to be important.

“Good advising comes from conversations among people who care about other people and the decisions they make,” said Rinere.

Harvard hired Rinere away from Princeton, where she has served as Dean of Butler College for the past five years.

“Monique is a terrific colleague,” said Butler College Master Sanjeev R. Kulkarni. “She’s contributed tremendously to Butler College and will be greatly missed.”

“I’m perfectly happy [at Princeton] but this is a fabulous opportunity,” Rinere said. “I’m very excited to be joining Harvard at this moment. There are so [many] positive changes taking place.”

—Staff writer Allison A. Frost can be reached at afrost@fas.harvard.edu.