Associate Dean of Students David R. Friedrich will leave Harvard for MIT this summer after over a decade overseeing student life initiatives at the University.
A Divinity School graduate, Friedrich began working at Harvard in 2006 as the manager of the Student Organization Center at Hilles. In 2009, he moved from the Quad to University Hall as the new assistant dean of the College, and was put in charge of supporting and overseeing the College’s student organizations. Friedrich later took charge of the College’s residential life as well.
In his new position as the Senior Director of Housing Operation and Renewal Planning at MIT, Friedrich will be responsible for the school’s residential system, and will oversee a project to renovate and renew it. During an interview Tuesday, Freidrich said he will officially leave Harvard July 11 before starting his new job at MIT a week later on July 19.
Friedrich, who said he has been “finalizing the details” of his transition to MIT over the past few weeks, said he is excited to begin his new job but sad to leave the students and colleagues he has worked with at the College.
“This was an exciting opportunity that when I was offered it, it felt like a right next move for me and my professional growth,” Friedrich said. “It certainly wasn’t an easy decision. I really loved my time at Harvard and it’s with mixed emotions that I’m leaving.”
“I will still continue to care deeply about what happens at Harvard College even if I’m just down the street,” he added.
Dean of Students Katherine G. O’Dair announced Friedrich’s departure in an email sent to undergraduates Tuesday afternoon.
“In addition to being an outstanding professional, David is an exceptional person,” O’Dair wrote. “He has dedicated himself to improving the Harvard student experience for over a decade, [and] his thoughtful stewardship of the College’s residential life program and work with student organizations will be greatly missed.”
O’Dair wrote that over the coming weeks, she will work closely with other Office of Student Life staff—especially Assistant Dean of Student life Alex R. Miller—to ensure a “smooth transition process.” She added that the Office will announce plans for the search for Friedrich’s replacement in fall of 2017.
Friedrich did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.
During his time at Harvard, Friedrich helped roll out the College’s controversial penalties on members of single-gender final clubs and Greek organizations. Under the social group policy, first announced in May 2016, undergraduates in these groups may be ineligible for certain fellowships and leadership positions across campus.
In March 2017, Friedrich met with leaders of single-gender final clubs, fraternities, and sororities to discuss the possibility of the groups becoming “inclusive” social organizations.
Friedrich is not the only Harvard administrator to make the move down Massachusetts Avenue to MIT. In April 2017, the College announced that Loc Truong, the College’s director of diversity and inclusion programs, will step down from the role May 31 to become MIT’s Assistant Dean of Student Support Services.
Several other Harvard officials have also left the University in the past four months, including former 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.
“I don’t think it’s a pattern,” Friedrich said. “I know that sometimes opportunities present themselves and people will—you need to weigh a number of factors and make decisions for career opportunities that come up.”
O’Dair concluded her email by asking students to join her in “wishing David all the best in his new role, just down the River.”
—Staff writer Hannah Natanson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @hannah_natanson.
—Staff writer Derek G. Xiao can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @derekgxiao.