College to Revive ‘Director of Community and Diversity’ Position in Freshman Dean’s Office

The Freshman Dean’s Office will revive a previous position called the “Director of Community and Diversity” in response to recommendations from a 2015 report written by the College’s diversity and inclusion working group.

The reinstated director will be responsible for developing programming for first year students, as well as for ensuring that the online sites for the Community and Diversity programs clearly articulate the relevant initiatives offered by the FDO. The director is further tasked with ensuring that the makeup of FDO employees accurately reflects the diversity of each year’s class of freshmen.

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana announced the revival of the position in an interview Tuesday.

University Hall
University Hall holds both the College's Office of Student Life and an office for Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana.

“That is to continue our focus on belonging and inclusion,” Khurana said of the move. “And there will be a lot of—once the individual is in place—a lot of focus on systemic processes and approaches to belonging and inclusion, especially in the first year.”

The FDO has not yet hired anyone to fill the position. In a press release, FDO employees wrote that “the director position will be assessed in the summer of 2017.”

The FDO first decided to revive the position last summer, and FDO employee Jasmine M. Waddell stepped up to supervise the person initially chosen to serve in the role, whom Waddell declined to name. But after the first director left the College for “personal reasons” last semester, Waddell took her place and has acted as director ever since.

Waddell also serves as the Resident Dean of Freshmen for Elm Yard and as an Assistant Dean of Harvard College.

“You know, it’s been a very full plate, but I also think this work is really important,” Waddell said of her three positions. “All of us in the Freshman Dean’s Office have different roles, and these are some of the roles that I have.”

She added that she has enjoyed her time as director.

“It’s been really fun,” Waddell added. “It has been a programming position—so we have done a couple of really fun programs.”

In particular, she cited a recent FDO initiative in which a group of roughly 40 freshmen examined transcripts at Oberon Theatre that discussed the experience of transgender women, and a February coffee house celebration of Black History Month hosted by the FDO.

In their lengthy November 2015 report, the College’s Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion also recommended other reforms regarding diversity at the school, including the creation of a University-wide task force that would consider similar issues.

University President Drew G. Faust accepted the working group’s recommendation in an email heralding the report and announced last September that the committee—dubbed the “Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging”—was set to begin its work.

The committee most recently announced on April 6 that Harvard will change the final line of “Fair Harvard,” the University’s 181-year-old alma mater, which has read “Till the stock of the Puritans die” since its composition in 1836.

—Staff writer Hannah Natanson can be reached at hannah.natanson@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @hannah_natanson.

—Staff writer Derek G. Xiao can be reached at derek.xiao@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @derekgxiao.

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