Currier Masters To Leave

During four-year term, husband and wife helped foster close community

Currier House Masters Patricia O’Brien and Joseph L. Badaracco announced last night that they would step down from their positions as house masters at the end of the academic year.

O’Brien—former deputy dean of the College—and her husband Badaracco—a Harvard Business School professor—cited “personal and professional” reasons in their e-mail to Currier House residents.

They will maintain their posts through commencement, according to Badaracco. He said that though they only finalized their decision to leave recently, they had been contemplating it for some time.

“There wasn’t any precise point until quite recently when we just said, ‘This is it,’” said Badaracco, the Shad professor of business ethics, in a phone interview.

The announcement comes on the heels of what has been a tough year for the couple. O’Brien was forced to step down from her position as deputy dean over the summer, and Badaracco lost his oldest daughter, Anna, in a car accident in August.

Under the couple’s leadership, Currier developed a reputation for being a close-knit community adored by its residents despite its location in the Quad.

They oversaw the renovation of the Currier “Fishbowl”—now a luxurious lounge replete with a big screen TV and audiovisual sound system—and the opening of a new reading room. They were a frequent sight in the underground dining hall, and the victorious hosts of a champagne party last year when Currier won the Strauss cup, which is awarded each spring to the house that has garnered the most points in intramural competitions throughout the year.

“What we really enjoyed was the community in the house,” Badaracco said. “It wasn’t so much special events as it was going into the dining hall, seeing students and tutors, and having meals with them, living in the community.”

“Students really liked these last few years; very few of them tried to transfer and we look at that as a real measure of success,” he added.

Currier’s dining hall was buzzing with news of the popular house masters’ departure last night, as students speculated about the reasons behind the announcement.

“I figured this would happen. There have been rumors and it made sense,” said Michael W. Judge ’07. “People have been questioning since the beginning of the year how much longer they would be here.”

“It is sad to hear because they are great masters. They are really friendly and genuinely interested in the students and the house,” he added.

Even as the masters and their family were dealing with the loss of Badaracco’s daughter, students said they remained involved in House activities.

“They still held bi-weekly study breaks, and cared about the house, which I really appreciated because it must have taken a lot of time to do all of that with all that was going on in the family,” said Brian Na ’09, another Currier resident. “They’ve definitely always kept up their end of the deal as house masters.”

Some residents said they were surprised because Badaracco and O’Brien had seemed comfortable and happy at Currier’s helm.

Jonathan Hernandez ’09 had not heard about the news because he had not read his e-mail. “Are you serious?” he asked, turning to ask his friend if he had heard the news.

The announcement was “disappointing because they are really competent and happy here,” he said.

Badaracco said that he was not sure about the process of finding replacements. Badaracco and O’Brien have served since fall 2003.

“We’ll be happy to help out, but it’s too early to say,” he said.

Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 did not respond to a request for comment sent via e-mail late last night.

—Staff writer Aditi Banga can be reached at abanga@fas.harvard.edu.