Dean Of Student Life Steps Down

In a sudden move, Stephen Lassonde leaves the post after less than three years in the position

UPDATED: January 23, 2016, at 2:15 p.m.

Dean of Student Life Stephen Lassonde will leave his position on Feb. 1 after less than three years in the post and will no longer be an employee of Harvard College.

Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana announced Lassonde’s departure in an email to undergraduates late Friday afternoon. In the brief message, Khurana wrote that Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67 will serve as the interim dean of student life. Dingman said he will continue to serve in his current post at the Freshman Dean’s Office as well. Khurana did not provide an explanation for Lassonde’s unexpected departure, but thanked him for his service to Harvard.

When reached by phone late Friday afternoon, Lassonde, who lives in Mather House, said he was not available to comment. His assistant, Dorothy Villarreal ’15, also declined to comment.

“I will miss Harvard and all it affords and I will, particularly miss you students,”Lassonde wrote Saturday in an email to The Crimson.

The departure appears sudden; Khurana did not specify when the College would appoint a permanent replacement. In a Jan 19. letter shared with Currier House residents, Khurana wrote that Lassonde would lead the search for new House masters.

“Additionally, in February, Dean Lassonde and I will be hosting community meetings in Currier to understand its particular needs,” Khurana wrote at the time. Khurana invited students to reach out to Lassonde about the search process.

As of Friday evening, Lassonde was slated to teach a history seminar on childhood in America this semester, according to Harvard's course catalog. By Saturday morning, the directory no longer listed that course. While Lassonde did not specifically comment on the course, he wrote in the email that “I especially loved teaching in the History Department which takes its teaching mission so seriously.”

The course, which was most recently offered last spring, received an overall score of “5” on the Q guide, the College’s course and instructor evaluation system. A 5 is the highest score a course can receive.

Dingman would not offer comment on Lassonde’s departure from his post and deferred requests to College spokesperson Rachael Dane, who declined to comment beyond the contents of Khurana’s email. She later clarified that Lassonde will no longer be an employee of Harvard College beginning Feb. 1.

Lassonde is an active member of Mather House and occasionally hosts House-wide study breaks.

Mather House Master Michael D. Rosengarten said that he learned of Lassonde’s departure from Khurana’s email.

“We are so surprised,” Rosengarten said.

The Dean of Student Life oversees an office with a host of administrators who manage student extracurriculars, housing assignments, and residential tutors.

—Staff writer Jalin P. Cunningham can be reached at jalin.cunningham@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @JalinCunningham.

—Staff writer Andrew M. Duehren can be reached at andy.duehren@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @aduehren.

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