News

Undergraduates Celebrate Second Consecutive Virtual Housing Day

News

Dean of Students Office Discusses Housing Day, Anti-Racism Goals

News

Renowned Cardiologist and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Bernard Lown Dies at 99

News

Native American Nonprofit Accuses Harvard of Violating Federal Graves Protection and Repatriation Act

News

U.S. Reps Assess Biden’s Progress on Immigration at HKS Event

Eck, Austin Named New Lowell Masters

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

As a graduate student in the 1970s, Diana L. Eck cited her desire to pursue doctoral research in India when she turned down a request by then-Master of Lowell House Zeph Stewart to serve as a resident tutor.

More than two decades later, now a professor of comparative religion and Indian studies, Eck will accept the top post at Lowell--that of House Master--University officials announced yesterday.

Eck and her partner Dorothy A. Austin, an associate professor of psychology and religion at Drew University in New Jersey and an ordained Episcopal minister, will serve together as co-masters of Lowell. Their appointment fills the positions that will soon be vacated by Arnold Jr. Professor of Science William H. Bossert '59 and his wife Mary Lee, who have announced plans to retire after serving as Lowell's co-masters for 23 years.

"I think it's a wonderful selection," Bossert said. "Diana has proven a very deep interest in undergraduate education and that is the most important trait for House masters."

According to Eck, she and Austin had long considered becoming masters but never followed through with the process. However, she said when Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 approached her about adding her name to a list of candidates for the post, she agreed.

"I felt like it was an auspicious moment," Eck said. "The more we explored the idea, the more that we discovered it was very appealing."

Eck said she and Austin look forward to being part of the House.

"Both of us are excited and feel this is a very challenging opportunity," she said. "It's going to mean trying ourselves out in a new community and that's always challenging."

Students and faculty alike praise Eck for her academic achievements.

"I think she is a brilliant scholar," said Co-Chair of the Lowell House Committee Lisa M. Mignone '98, who has taken two courses taught by Eck. "She's really an intense intellectual."

Robert J. Kiely, master of Adams House praisedEck, who is currently a member of the Adams SeniorCommon Room, as "a person who very clearly lovesher work."

"I'm so pleased that she will [accept theposition as master]," he said.

Lewis, who was involved in the selectionprocess, said Eck's intellectual pursuits willcontribute to her performance as master.

"There's a natural resonance between herscholarly life and the position she will be takingat the head of this very diverse House," Lewissaid.

Presently, Eck is a member of the department ofSanskrit and Indian studies, a member of theFaculty of Divinity, and the director of thePluralism Project, a research project studyingreligion in the United States. She also chairs theCommittee on the Study of Religion, but hadpreviously announced she will step down from thatpost in June.

The process of selecting a master to fill thevacancy in Lowell started on the House level witha six-member committee, Bossert said. Thecommittee presented Dean Lewis with a list of goodpotential masters, he said.

According to Lewis, the ensuing process ofselecting Eck and Austin included consultationwith an advisory council composed of facultymembers, tutors and one student. He said the finaldecision--made by President Neil L. Rudenstine inconsultation with Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R.Knowles and Lewis himself--took into account thecommittee's advice.

Lewis said the pool of potential masters wasparticularly dynamic. "There was a very stronggroup of candidates, which I think is a goodthing," he said. "I have a very strong sense thatwell-respected senior Faculty...are looking foropportunities like this for engagement" withstudents.

According to Lewis, this is the first time thata same-sex couple will serve as House masters,but he said this was not a consideration in theselection process.

"We don't care at all about a person's maritalstatus, but if they do have a partner, they areconsidered as well," he said. "Both people have tobe interested and appealing as masters."

Bossert said he was heartened by theUniversity's selection.

"In the very best way, we have a master who waslooked on in favor by both the president, theDean, and the internal house committee, and that'snice," Bossert said. "It's a tribute to Eck. Therewasn't the feeling that we were working at crosspurposes."

Though she admits it will be hard to fill theBosserts' shoes, Eck said she looks forward to theopportunity to serve as master.

"There's something unique about a communitythat's constituted around a house," she said. "I'minterested in finding a way in which the House canreally be a real stimulus of intellectualconversation about the topics of the day both inAmerica and around the world."

Eck said she also is concerned with preservingLowell House's unique features.

"Our intention is to maintain that tradition[of weekly teas] in one form or another," Ecksaid. "We believe tradition is the way to createcommunity."

Preparing to hand the reins to Eck and Austin,Bossert offered the new masters some advice aboutmanaging academic and House responsibilities.

"No one really appreciates how much time ittakes to be a master," he said. "I'd tell them tosay no a lot," he quipped.

Eck said though she hopes not to give up muchof her scholarly work, being on academic leavenext year and being released from her teachingresponsibilities will be a help.

"I very much see myself continuing as a writerand as an academic because that's part of what Ibring to the house," Eck said.

According to Lewis, Eck and Austin'sappointment is pending confirmation by the HarvardCorporation and the Board of Overseers

Robert J. Kiely, master of Adams House praisedEck, who is currently a member of the Adams SeniorCommon Room, as "a person who very clearly lovesher work."

"I'm so pleased that she will [accept theposition as master]," he said.

Lewis, who was involved in the selectionprocess, said Eck's intellectual pursuits willcontribute to her performance as master.

"There's a natural resonance between herscholarly life and the position she will be takingat the head of this very diverse House," Lewissaid.

Presently, Eck is a member of the department ofSanskrit and Indian studies, a member of theFaculty of Divinity, and the director of thePluralism Project, a research project studyingreligion in the United States. She also chairs theCommittee on the Study of Religion, but hadpreviously announced she will step down from thatpost in June.

The process of selecting a master to fill thevacancy in Lowell started on the House level witha six-member committee, Bossert said. Thecommittee presented Dean Lewis with a list of goodpotential masters, he said.

According to Lewis, the ensuing process ofselecting Eck and Austin included consultationwith an advisory council composed of facultymembers, tutors and one student. He said the finaldecision--made by President Neil L. Rudenstine inconsultation with Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R.Knowles and Lewis himself--took into account thecommittee's advice.

Lewis said the pool of potential masters wasparticularly dynamic. "There was a very stronggroup of candidates, which I think is a goodthing," he said. "I have a very strong sense thatwell-respected senior Faculty...are looking foropportunities like this for engagement" withstudents.

According to Lewis, this is the first time thata same-sex couple will serve as House masters,but he said this was not a consideration in theselection process.

"We don't care at all about a person's maritalstatus, but if they do have a partner, they areconsidered as well," he said. "Both people have tobe interested and appealing as masters."

Bossert said he was heartened by theUniversity's selection.

"In the very best way, we have a master who waslooked on in favor by both the president, theDean, and the internal house committee, and that'snice," Bossert said. "It's a tribute to Eck. Therewasn't the feeling that we were working at crosspurposes."

Though she admits it will be hard to fill theBosserts' shoes, Eck said she looks forward to theopportunity to serve as master.

"There's something unique about a communitythat's constituted around a house," she said. "I'minterested in finding a way in which the House canreally be a real stimulus of intellectualconversation about the topics of the day both inAmerica and around the world."

Eck said she also is concerned with preservingLowell House's unique features.

"Our intention is to maintain that tradition[of weekly teas] in one form or another," Ecksaid. "We believe tradition is the way to createcommunity."

Preparing to hand the reins to Eck and Austin,Bossert offered the new masters some advice aboutmanaging academic and House responsibilities.

"No one really appreciates how much time ittakes to be a master," he said. "I'd tell them tosay no a lot," he quipped.

Eck said though she hopes not to give up muchof her scholarly work, being on academic leavenext year and being released from her teachingresponsibilities will be a help.

"I very much see myself continuing as a writerand as an academic because that's part of what Ibring to the house," Eck said.

According to Lewis, Eck and Austin'sappointment is pending confirmation by the HarvardCorporation and the Board of Overseers

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags