Class of '96 Will See Changes in Yard Life

New First-Year Dean to Improve Advising

Associate Dean of Freshmen W.C. Burriss Young '55 won't be walking his dog out of his Massachusetts Hall residence when September rolls around.

Instead, the man who has lived in the celebrated building longer than anyone in recent memory will be temporarily housed at 29 Garden St., where 150 members of the Class of '96 must live because of Yard dorm renovations.

Young's "departure" is just one of the many changes in store for the incoming first-year class.

Besides scheduled renovations of several Yard dormitories--including weld Hall in the fall and Matthews Hall in the spring--other developments this past spring may mean a new kind of frosh experience.

The changes start at the top: A new dean will move in at the Freshman Dean's Office (FDO).


Duke University Associate Dean Elizabeth S. Nathans accepted the post in April and will be bringing her expertise in academic advising to Harvard.

In addition a 12-member student committee that participated in the dean selection process will submit a set of proposals to improve first-year life this summer.

Nathans will take the helm from Acting Dean of Freshmen Virginia L. Mackay-Smith 78, who filled the post after Henry C. Moses resigned last year.

Nathans was the dean of first-year students at Duke from 1971 to 1972 and has been the associate dean of Duke's Trinity College of Arts and Sciences for the past 20 years.

She established Duke's well-known Pre-Major Advising Center in 1988, and has directed it since then.

The incoming dean says she is enthusiastic about modifying Harvard's first-year advising system so "students learn how to use their advisers and all the other resources as well as possible."

Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57, who announced Nathans' appointment, says the new administrator has an ideal background to run the FDO.

"She's obviously bringing us a lot of experience working with students, and with an academic advising system," says Jewett. "she also has a reputation of being an effective administrator and a leader in her community."

Nathans' selection was the result of a yearlong search by two separate faculty and student committee created by Jewett.

"We did not make an offer to another person," says Jewett, but he would not say whether Nathans was the College's first choice. Some sources close to the search committees suggest that Nathans was not.