Illingworth To Depart

Student services dean cites personal reasons

Published on June 10, 2003

Associate Dean of the College David P. Illingworth '71, who handled student group affairs from University Hall for the past four years, told The Crimson on June 10 that he has decided to end his service to Harvard this summer.

Illingworth, who has worked at Harvard for a combined 22 years as a dean and in the Admissions Office, is a member of the staff appointed by Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68.

Illingworth's departure follows the ouster of Lewis in March and the commencement of a restructuring of the College that will combine the oversight of academic and extracurricular matters—some say to the detriment of the latter.

Despite the turbulence in University Hall in recent months, Illingworth called his departure from Cambridge "a personal matter."

A Maine native who left to attend Harvard College and Divinity School, Illingworth said he has plans to move to his home state's largest city for family reasons.


"My elderly parents live in Portland and I would like to be closer to them in the years to come," Illingworth wrote in an e-mail. "I also would like to return to my vocation as a priest in the Episcopal Church and I'm excited about various opportunities for service there."

Lewis called Illingworth "one of Harvard's great servants."

"Dean Illingworth understands Harvard students very well, and has particular expertise in the areas of musical performance and spiritual life," Lewis wrote. "But he has overseen a complex operation, mostly driven by student initiative, with a consistently supportive and fair hand."

Lewis added that Illingworth has "grappled sensitively" with difficult dilemmas like balancing students' right to protest—such as during the April 2001 takeover of Mass. Hall by the Progressive Student Labor Movement—with "preserving the rights of resident students to study and sleep in peace."

Illingworth, who was known for his consistently cheery demeanor, has also taken on other controversial issues during his deanship.

This past year he drew criticism from some students for his handling of the Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship's constitutional requirement that its leaders profess faithfulness to certain Christian doctrines. Ultimately, the Committee on College Life, which includes both Lewis and Illingworth, decided to allow the provision to stand.

Dean of Undergraduate Education Benedict H. Gross '71, who will be taking over the combined roles of his current post and that of Lewis this summer, said he had known "for some time" that Illingworth was considering leaving, and that he respects the decision.

Gross wrote in an e-mail that Illingworth "will be hard to replace."

Although Illingworth did not say that Lewis' departure had led to his own, the two are good friends, and many members of Lewis' staff have expressed unhappiness with the sudden firing of their boss.

Illingworth has said that Lewis' departure has brought him some sadness, and that the reorganization of the College has been a source of uncertainty.