Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67 will step down at the end of the academic year after 13 years in the position and 45 years at Harvard, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana announced Thursday.
“I want to leave on a high note and there are things out there I’m looking forward to doing,” Dingman said in an interview Thursday, adding he and his wife want to spend more time with their grandchildren and travel more.
Dingman was appointed to the position in 2004. During his tenure, he reorganized the Freshman Dean’s Office staff and launched new initiatives for freshmen like Convocation and the Reflecting on Your Life program, a series of group sessions that encourage first-year students to muse on their time at Harvard.
Dingman said he was most proud of the work he had done to develop his staff he had as dean.
“I think we have developed a deeper pool of candidates and been able to make some very good choices,” Dingman said. “I think they have one another’s back and work with I think a real sense of enjoyment, but also total commitment.”
In an email sent to College students Thursday morning, Khurana thanked Dingman for his integrity, his “calming presence,” and his passion for helping students transition from high school to college.
“Under Dean Dingman’s leadership, more opportunities have been created for informed student-faculty interaction and for taking a break from the intellectual rigor to relax and enjoy the company of peers,” Khurana wrote. “His leadership and mentorship will be truly missed.”
Since his undergraduate years at the College, Dingman has held several leadership positions at Harvard, serving initially in the Admissions office and later as a senior tutor in Leverett and Dudley Houses. He also served as Assistant Dean and Associate Dean of Harvard College, and briefly as the Interim Dean of Student Life before Katherine G. O’Dair took over in August 2016. Still, current students know Dingman best in his current role as Dean of Freshmen.
After his retirement, Dingman will continue to be involved with Harvard as a Special Adviser to Khurana, according to Khurana’s email.
“In this capacity, Dean Dingman will assist me with various special projects, including in the College’s fundraising efforts to support the student experience,” Khurana wrote. “I am grateful for his continued service to Harvard College.”
Khurana wrote in his email that he will outline a plan to search for Dingman’s successor “in the near future.”
Dingman’s retirement leaves yet another administrative role for the University to fill following announcements that University President Drew G. Faust and Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies Dean Lizabeth A. Cohen will vacate their positions in 2018. Dingman’s announcement also comes on the heels of several other departures—over the past year, multiple Harvard officials have left the school for other jobs, including former University Title IX Officer Mia Karvonides, former Chief Diversity Officer Lisa M. Coleman, and former director of the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Alicia Oeser.
Dingman called his decision to step down “bittersweet.”
“I’ve really felt so privileged to be able to do these different jobs and Rakesh has been an extraordinary boss,” Dingman said. “But everything has its time and I look forward to new opportunities and new challenges. I think turnover is good so I expect the Freshman Dean’s Office will benefit from new leadership.”
—Staff writer Dianne Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @diannelee_.
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