A new oak is growing in Harvard Yard, but not a tree—“Oak Yard” has joined Crimson, Elm, and Ivy Yards as the fourth freshman residential neighborhood.
Resident Dean Jonas V. Clark will head the new yard, which comprises Canaday and Thayer dormitories, previously parts of Elm Yard and Ivy Yard.
The change has shrunk each yard in student size, reducing each dean’s workload.
“We felt that with four deans we could give even more personal attention to the students, and the workloads of the deans would be more manageable,” said Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67.
Some freshmen living in Oak Yard said they had seen Clark at the freshman welcome event but didn’t actually speak with him.
“I haven’t talked to him. I tried, but he seemed kind of busy,” Thayer resident Peter Wang ’14 said of Clark.
Dingman said the typical workload of a freshman resident dean has increased in recent years as the student body has become more diverse and freshman programming has been scaled up.
“Now it’s a much more exciting place, a much more vibrant place, but we have to pay attention to the individual experiences of students and not assume that everybody is getting on board without stretching in uncomfortable ways,” Dingman said.
Some students said that they didn’t affiliate strongly with their freshman yard assignment, a sentiment also echoed by Dingman, who called the division into yards an “administrative convenience.”
But some freshman do feel some pride for their yard assignments.
“I get excited when I meet another person from Oak Yard,” Carol Tran ’14 said. “It’s just another thing we have in common.”
A native of Northfield, Mass., Clark graduated from Haverford College in 2004, concentrating in political philosophy and captaining the baseball team.
He received a master’s degree from the Harvard Divinity School in 2008 and worked as a freshman proctor.
Clark joins three other resident deans of freshmen: Sue Brown of Elm Yard, William Cooper ’94 of Ivy Yard, and Catherine R. Shapiro of Crimson Yard.
The post of resident dean of freshmen is virtually identical to that of the Allston Burr resident dean in the upperclassman Houses.
Resident deans of freshmen are charged with overseeing freshmen’s academic well-being and, like their counterparts in the Houses, sit on the Administrative Board, the College’s primary disciplinary body.
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