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New House Masters Reflect on First Month in Pforzheimer

Pforzheimer House Co-Masters Anne Harrington and John Durant pose in the Pfoho dining hall with their son Jamie Durant on Sunday night before a harvest house event.
Pforzheimer House Co-Masters Anne Harrington and John Durant pose in the Pfoho dining hall with their son Jamie Durant on Sunday night before a harvest house event.
By Laya Anasu and Madeline R. Conway, Crimson Staff Writers

On a boat cruise last month, sophomores in Pforzheimer House got the chance to mingle not only with other members of their class but also with two new residents of Pfoho—House Masters Anne Harrington ’82, a history of science professor, and her husband John R. Durant.

“I think we felt a bit like sophomores ourselves,” Durant said in an interview last week in their Masters’ residence on Linnaean Street.

Like the sophomores who reside in their House, Harrington and Durant are also spending their first semester getting to know Pfoho.

Harrington and Durant were chosen in the spring to serve as House Masters following the announcement that then-Masters Nicholas A. Christakis and Erika L. Christakis ’86 would depart for Yale at the end of the 2013 academic year. Harrington, the director of undergraduate studies in the history of science department, and Durant, an adjunct professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also lead a Harvard Summer School program in Cambridge, England.

Just about a month after the start of the semester, the pair—along with their 9-year-old son, Jamie—reflected on their time in the House thus far, weeks they described as both hectic and rewarding.

“Quite honestly, it seemed like a lot longer, because so much has happened in a month,” Durant said.

“It’s the longest September I can remember,” Harrington added.

Since arriving, the new Masters say they have been working to get to know the House, its staff, and the undergraduates who reside there, while also maintaining House traditions and instituting some of their own.

In addition to hosting open houses for students, Harrington and Durant, who hails from England and graduated from the University of Cambridge, have planned a series of Saturday morning English breakfasts for Pfoho residents. The first one was held on Sept. 28.

Pfoho residents said that they have appreciated Harrington and Durant’s efforts to make Pfohosers, as they call themselves, feel welcome. Sebastian G. Devora ’15, a member of Pfoho’s House Committee, praised Harrington and Durant’s interactions with HoCo.

“I really like the way they are approaching us,” Devora said. “They are working really hard to reach out to the students.”

The family expressed satisfaction with their time in the House. For his part, Jamie said that living in Pfoho is “half really hard and half really fun.” Jamie said that, while there is always something for him to do at Pfoho—like play ping pong and X-Box and do homework—it’s also hard because others in the House “are always trying to meet you and ask you questions.”

Harrington and Durant also said they were happy with their new jobs.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Harrington said. “I think we’re really enjoying it, and we feel very welcome.”

—Staff writer Laya Anasu can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @LayaAnasu.

—Staff writer Madeline R. Conway can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MadelineRConway.

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