Wrangham, Ross, Named Currier House Masters

Anthropology Professor Richard W. Wrangham and his wife, Elizabeth Ross, will take over as Currier House masters beginning July 1, the University announced yesterday.

The appointments come just over a year after former House Masters Patricia O’Brien and Joseph L. Badaracco, the deputy dean of the College and a Harvard Business School professor, respectively, announced they would step down after nearly four years in the Currier masters’ residence.

“We were asked if we were interested and it seemed a very attractive position,” Wrangham said in an interview yesterday.

The couple was informed of the decision in late January by outgoing Dean of the College David R. Pilbeam.

Longtime Currier resident tutors Shahram and Laura Khoshbin have served as interim House masters since O’Brien and Badaracco’s departure in June.

“I welcome Richard and Elizabeth to their new role as Co-House Masters of Currier House, and I thank the Khoshbins for their able leadership this year and for their combined service of over four decades to Harvard students,” Pilbeam said in a statement.

Wrangham and Ross first came to the United States after living and being educated in Great Britain. A member of Harvard’s faculty since 1989, Wrangham has taught courses in human evolutionary biology and anthropology.

Ross, whose academic background is in immunology, is the founder and executive director of the Kasiisi Project, a non-profit in western Uganda.

Wrangham co-taught the Core class Science B-29: “Evolution of Human Nature” for a number of years, but he said he considers his new job an opportunity to increase his interaction with undergraduates.

“Harvard undergraduates are full of interest and initiative,” he said. “I look forward to getting to know a wider range of students through the house.”

Omid G. Shahi ’09, former Currier House Committee co-chair and a member of the group consulted in the search for new house masters, said he remembers Wrangham as being both charismatic and funny in his interview for the position.

“He’s an awesome guy,” Shahi said. “He has the coolest and the funniest stories ever about what he did in Africa.”

Ross, who has accompanied her husband to Africa for decades, said she hasn’t lived in an environment like this since her college years.

“It will be challenging living with so many people,” Ross said. “It will have its advantages too, in that you’re not their mother and you’re a step removed.”

Ross added that their 19-year-old son worries that his parents won’t be able to handle the occasional debauchery that comes with undergraduate life.

“I have three sons,” she said. “So I’ve seen enough vomit in my time.”

—Staff writer Abby D. Phillip can be reached at adphill@fas.harvard.edu.