In Harvard’s latest move to improve first-year fun, the Freshman Dean’s Office (FDO) created a new position last week that melds the spunk of a fun “czar” and the administrative savvy of a dean.
The Director for Freshman Programming position will better integrate freshmen into the Harvard community, administrators said.
The new director will be responsible for overseeing programming including first-year orientation in September and freshman-specific social events held throughout the year.
“I think this is a wonderful opportunity for us to address areas with more attention and really serve to make the students’ experience even better,” said Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67.
The FDO developed the new post after a staff assistant position opened this fall. Rather than replace the staff assistant, the FDO decided to redistribute the responsibilities and develop a position dedicated to the first-year experience, said Gretchen M Gingo, department administrator in the FDO.
“Each of the resident deans, the dean of the freshmen, and the department administrator plays a role in [the freshman experience],” Gingo said. “But since we all have other primary responsibilities, sometimes there wasn’t as much focus on it as we would have liked.”
Dingman said that the new director will have a level of responsibility on par with the three resident deans of freshmen, who are currently Lesley Nye Barth, Sue Brown, and William Cooper ’94. But the new director will not have similar one-on-one responsibilities with students.
Dingman specifically said the coordination of the First-Year Orientation programs—such as the Outdoor Program (FOP), Arts Program (FAP), and Urban Program (FUP)—would benefit from having a single coordinator.
“The question is should we be trying to grow [the programs] or to consider new programs?” Dingman said.
“There’s not always consistency about the goals [of the programs], how these are managed and staffed, and what resources are provided to them,” Gingo said.
Senait Tesfai ’07, a member of the FUP 2006 steering committee, said that FUP has worked closely with the FDO in the past and this new position will only strengthen their relationship.
“To have someone just as an additional pair of eyes to go over administrative things ahead of time will be very beneficial,” she said.
The FDO is currently accepting applications for the position and said that the director will ideally begin working in June.
—Staff writer Madeline W. Lissner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.