Cabot House Masters Jay M. Harris and Cheryl L. Harris announced last night that they will resign their posts at the end of the current academic year, citing heavy responsibilities in other areas of their work.
Jay Harris had not indicated his plan to step down from the position he and his wife have held for seven years before sending out last night’s notification over the Cabot Announce e-mail list, according to Cabot resident tutor Zirui Song.
“While we very much wanted to stay on through ten years as Masters, we feel that with Jay’s new responsibilities in University Hall and the escalating demands of Cheryl’s job we are unable to put in the time or do the job the way we think it ought to be done,” the e-mail stated. “Cabot deserves better than we feel we can give it at this time, and so we think it is best that we step aside and allow the College to bring in some new blood.”
In the summer of 2008, Harris was named dean of undergraduate education by Dean of the College Evelyn M. Hammonds. He continues to serve as the Wolfson Professor of Jewish Studies.
Harris also helped pave the way for this fall’s launch of the new General Education curriculum, heading the General Education Standing Committee since 2007, which has approved over 150 courses for the program. This fall, Harris became the faculty director of the Office of General Education, which is in the process of absorbing the Core Program.
He is teaching one course this fall, Moral Reasoning 54: “If There is No God, All is Permitted.”
Cheryl L. Harris is a school psychologist at Sharon High School in Sharon, Mass.
The resignation e-mail mentioned the persistent challenge of not being able to define the jobs of House masters.
“We would not know how to describe it to our successors,” they wrote in the letter, “other than to advise them to hang on for the ride of their lives.”
The Harrises also praised Cabot’s new Allston-Burr Resident Dean, Jill Constantino, who replaced Mya M. Mangawang after Mangawang resigned last May.
Students and tutors said they were surprised and saddened at Harris’s announcement and said that the Harrises had been excellent House Masters—several students mentioned that Jay Harris knows every Cabot resident’s name.
“Jay’s always been very supportive of the students,” said Cabot HoCo co-chair Karl J. Kmiecik ’10.
Song, a second year tutor, said that Harris respects tutors’ autonomy and supports them both in their duties as tutors and in their own academic pursuits.
“We [tutors] really work with him, as opposed to for him,” Song said.
Students said that they had seen no change in the amount of time Harris spent fulfilling his duties as House Master over the past year. “I still see him in the dining hall a lot having brunch with students,” Luci Yang ’11 said.