Marine to Direct Women's Center

Susan Marine, who currently leads Harvard’s anti-sexual assault program, will be the first director of the College Women’s Center when it opens in the fall, Associate Dean Judith H. Kidd said yesterday.

The announcement ends a six-month search, and it brings the Women’s Center one step closer to existence.

A 13-member search committee, composed of students, faculty, and administrators, unanimously recommended Marine, who now serves as director of the College’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.

Marine is a former teaching fellow for Psychology 1703, “Human Sexuality.” She is pursuing a doctorate in higher education at Boston College, with a tentative dissertation topic on transgender students at women’s colleges.

Prior to coming to Harvard, she coordinated an anti-domestic violence program for the Cambridge Public Health Department. She has also directed safety and sexual abuse awareness programs at Dartmouth and Colorado College.

Dean of Harvard College Benedict H. Gross ’71 wrote in an e-mail that Marine “has done an outstanding job” in her present post. “We did a national search for this position, interviewed a number of outside applicants, and were delighted to find that we had the best person right here,” he added.

The search committee whittled down a pool of 144 applicants to just six semi-finalists, who were all invited to spend a day at Harvard. The final two candidates gave a town-hall-style presentation to a group of representatives from different groups involved in women’s issues.

The ultimate choice of Marine, who has been at Harvard for over three years, comes in time for her to greet the Class of 2010 this September.

The exact ways in which the Women’s Center will operate are less clear, although Kidd says she hopes that students will be instrumental in shaping the center.

“What I’ve said all the way through the process is that it’s going to be up to the director and women’s groups to decide what it’s going to be and what it’s going to look like,” Kidd said.

Giselle B. Schuetz ’06, the former co-chair of the Radcliffe Union of Students and a member of the search committee, said she was looking for the candidate “most attentive” to undergrads.

“One thing I hope the Women’s Center will do, which is actually one thing that Susan pitched in her town-hall meeting, is a leadership development curriculum program that the whole governing body of a student group would do together.”

The opening of the center in September will end a decades-long student effort to secure College support for women’s space on campus.

A student-run women’s space opened in the Quad in 1971 with a $600 grant from the Radcliffe Union. But in 1990, more than 1,000 students petitioned for a College-sponsored center, arguing that the Quad space was too small and too far from Harvard Yard.

Leaders of campus women’s groups called for a three-room center in a Yard dorm basement in 2000. And in 2004, the Radcliffe Union called for a center inside Hilles Library.

This past September, College officials made their first public endorsement for building the Women’s Center. By December, the College was advertising for a center director.

“Students have kept up their interest and have not let this die,” Kidd said at the time.

—Staff writer Liz C. Goodwin can be reached at

—Staff writer Daniel J.T. Schuker can be reached at