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Search for Masters Narrows

Appointments expected soon for three houses

By Emily M. Anderson and Nalina Sombuntham, Crimson Staff Writerss

With the new masters of Cabot, Currier and Winthrop Houses set to be appointed by the end of next week, a number of high profile professors—including a former member of the National Security Council and a prominent civil rights lawyer—have emerged as candidates.

Since late December, the Winthrop search committee has held interviews in its dining hall with some of the University’s most well-known Faculty members, including Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology William Gelbart, Boskey Professor of Law Lani Guinier ’71, Breakstone Professor of Neurology David A. Hafler, Wolfson Professor of Jewish Studies Jay M. Harris, Harvard School of Public Health Professor Jennifer Leaning ’68 and Kaneb Professor of National Security and Military Affairs Stephen P. Rosen ’74.

Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 said he will probably announce the new appointments by mid-April.

The three search committees charged with finding new masters for their Houses met individually with Lewis this week for final discussions on the candidates.

The committees have interviewed many of these same professors.

“I think that about 80 percent or 75 percent of the pool is the same for all the Houses, but a few were only seen by some of the Houses,” said Currier House Senior Tutor Carole A.S. Mandryk. “There were at least five that everybody saw, maybe four.”

Gelbart said he has interviewed with search committees—comprised of a mix of senior tutors, Senior Common Room members and House residents—from all three Houses.

“They’re just fun meetings—just chatting, a little bit interviewing both ways,” Gelbart said. “It just ends up being a interesting evening with people who are pretty interesting.”

Gelbart, who is the head tutor for the biology concentration and serves as a faculty adviser for the Harvard Foundation, said his desire to be a House master stems from his positive experience with students in academic settings.

“I like being around students and I like to get to know students in their context of their Houses,” he said.

The Currier search committee has also interviewed Leaning.

Harris declined to comment on his candidacy yesterday.

Guinier, Hafler, Leaning and Rosen could not be reached for comment.

Guinier, a civil rights activist, became the first black woman to be a tenured professor at Harvard Law School in 1998. If appointed to one of the three openings, Guinier would become the first black House master.

Leaning is currently chairing a committee of students, faculty members and administrators that is evaluating the University’s sexual assault policy.

Harris and Rosen are highly visible campus personalities, teaching popular core classes.

Rosen served on the staff of the National Security Council under former President Ronald Reagan and is currently co-teaching Historical Studies A-12: “International Conflict and Cooperation in the Modern World.”

Harris teaches Moral Reasoning 54: “If There Is No God, All Is Permitted.” He has been an outspoken critic of a drive to divest from Israel, a cause outgoing Winthrop House Master Paul D. Hanson supported.

Hafler directs a lab for Harvard Medical School’s Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“All the visitors were particularly impressive,” said Cabot House Senior Tutor Stephen Kargere, who is heading up Cabot’s search committee. “I wouldn’t say that all would be equally suitable for the job, but most of them were incredible.”

Some Winthrop residents said the academic prestige of a candidate should not be the deciding factor in the master search.

“It sort of matters to me more how involved they’d be in House life rather than their scholarly reputation,” Winthrop resident Heather A. Crossner ’03 said.

—Staff writer Emily M. Anderson can be reached at

—Staff writer Nalina Sombuntham can be reached at

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