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Dudley Celebrates Fifty Years

By Kerry A. Goodenow, Crimson Staff Writer

Founded in 1935, Dudley House has always played a unique role on campus.

In 1985, Dudley celebrated its 50th anniversary. According to an introductory letter written in 1985 by the chairs of the House to commemorate the event, “The anniversary year is a special time for Dudley—it gives us the opportunity to glance back and to look forward in time.”

In retrospect, Dudley House has, indeed, filled a niche on campus since its inception, and according to Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67, who served as the resident tutor of Dudley House from 1992 to 2005, the role of Dudley House on campus has evolved continuously.

“Going back in time, Dudley House was much more of a commuter house,” Dingman said. “Now, very few of our undergraduates live at home, but in those days, it served an even greater purpose.”

In the 50 years after its founding, Dudley House became what the 1985 chairs of the House described at the time as unique.

“Dudley students are anything and everything but typical,” stated the 50th anniversary letter. “While members of other Houses come directly from the yard dorms and stay for three years, our students come from the surrounding Boston area, other Houses, other universities, and time-off from Harvard.  Some are married and many are graduate students.”

The different ways in which people have used Dudley House reflect the varied groups that the facility has served.  Many of the students that have enjoyed their Dudley House experience the most have been Dudley House Cooperative residents.

“I spent some time living in Quincy House as well, but compared to living on campus, living in the Co-ops was a much more relaxed atmosphere,” Steven D. Pizer ’85 said. “It was like leaving school and going home everyday, which was a nice thing to do.”

Yet being a member of Dudley House did not necessarily entail active participation in various activities held in Lehman Hall—Dudley House’s main building.

“There was a bit of a divide within Dudley House between people living on their own in apartments and people living in the Co-ops,” Pizer said.  “The Masters had their teas, there were intramural sports things, but most of us in the Co-op were not particularly involved in those things.”

For transfer students, being a part of Dudley House culture was not a choice but an obligation.

“It was hard to be a Dudley house student then—the Houses were more the center of social life than they are now,” said Jonathan A. Lieberman ’85, who had transferred to Harvard from Amherst. “Every House had its own personality because it wasn’t a lottery—it wasn’t random. It wasn’t that easy to be a transfer student. I was trying to make friends and feel like I was a part of the House community on the river. I did not have much of a feeling for Dudley House.”

Since 1985, the atmosphere has changed, as transfer students are no longer required to be affiliated with Dudley, and students living off-campus have been granted permission to retain their House affiliation if they have spent previous semesters living in another House.  According to Dingman, such changes have positively affected Dudley House and made the House smaller and more cohesive.  “The number of students who join in the events that the fellows host in the House have increased, and that leads to a really vibrant community.”

While the rules surrounding Dudley House affiliation have changed, the lifestyle has remained untouched.  “The best part about the atmosphere at Dudley House is the diversity of the people who are here,” said Jonathan R. Bruno, a current graduate student and Dudley House fellow.  “It’s a fun place to be, there’s a lot going on.”

—Staff writer Kerry A. Goodenow can be reached at goodenow@fas.harvard.edu.

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Commencement 2010Class of 1985