UC Organizes Student-Dean Lunches

The Undergraduate Council has recently established several initiatives intended to increase communication between students and administrators, including a more transparent posting of deans’ office hours and a Lunch with a Dean series.

During a UC summit with administrators in January, Quincy House representative Jen Q. Y. Zhu ’14 asked Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds, “Why is it so difficult for students to talk to administrators?” A lack of office hours and infrequent email communication made interaction scarce, Zhu said.

Hammonds thanked Zhu for her question but noted that she does in fact hold office hours.

“I didn’t even know that Dean Hammonds had office hours,” Zhu said. “This really made it obvious that we have a communication problem and that we need more direct interaction.”

Last week, administrators at the Office of Student Life posted their office hours on the OSL website. UC President Danny P. Bicknell ’13 said that he saw this as a step toward improved administrative accessibility.

“We were pleasantly surprised at how receptive they were to our ideas and really engaging with students,” Bicknell said.

The UC is also currently organizing a Lunch with a Dean series, which will begin the week after spring break.

“We get to talk to these deans regularly by virtue of being on the UC,” said UC Vice President Pratyusha Yalamanchi ’13, who said she meets with Dean of Student Life Suzy M. Nelson at least once a month. “But we wanted students to also have a chance to sit down with administrators and talk about the issues they are concerned about.”

Through the new UC program, up to 15 students will have the chance to sign up for a meal with two or three deans at one of the undergraduate dining halls every two weeks. A UC representative will facilitate the discussion.

“This is meant to be an informal, less intimidating way for students to speak to top College administrators and build relationships,” Yalamanchi said. “It’s always great to talk over a meal, because it comes with the realization that the other party is a person too.”

—Staff writer Michelle Denise L. Ferreol can be reached at mferreol@college.harvard.edu.

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