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Sarah Rankin, the administrator who expanded programming aimed at educating students about sexual prevention and awareness, will depart Harvard at the end of the month to fill the recently created position of Title IX Investigator for MIT.
“While this is without a doubt a loss for Harvard, it represents a great new opportunity for Sarah, and I am delighted for her and this exciting new experience,” director of Harvard University Health Services Paul Barreira wrote in a late August email to colleagues announcing Rankin’s departure.
Rankin leaves Harvard after seven years as director of the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. At various points during her time as director, issues surrounding sexual assault and Harvard’s associated policies were the focus of heated debate and discussion on campus.
In an email to The Crimson on Thursday, Rankin highlighted her work with OSAPR peer educators; Response peer counselors; and individuals involved in Consent, Assault Awareness, and Relationship Educators, or CAARE.
She wrote that she will miss working with those groups when she leaves Harvard.
“It was a joy getting to know those smart, passionate, and thoughtful students who spend their precious free time volunteering to make the world a better place,” Rankin wrote. “They inspired me every day.”
Undergraduates praised Rankin for her accessibility and ability to connect with students.
Sally M. Castillo ’14, a member of CAARE, commended Rankin’s passion for her job and for students.
“She really has students’ best interests at heart, and she has true empathy,” Castillo said.
Castillo added that she believes Rankin regarded her role on campus as more than “just a job.”
“She also really, really cares about everyone who calls her, about every instance of sexual assault, and she will do whatever she can to help the students on campus,” Castillo said.
Undergraduate Council President Tara Raghuveer ’14 said she has communicated with Rankin multiple times, discussing issues including the referendum on Harvard’s sexual assault policy that undergraduate voters approved last fall in the UC presidential election.
“In all of my interactions with her, she’s been extremely open to having a dialogue with students, and I think conveys well that she cares a lot about the work that she does,” Raghuveer said.
Those who worked with Rankin said they expect her legacy to be long-lasting. In his announcement email, Barreira wrote that Rankin will “leave behind a legacy that will continue well beyond her tenure at HUHS.”
Raghuveer said she hopes Rankin’s accomplishments will carry on beyond her departure.
“My hope is that the programming that she leaves behind will continue to move in the direction of progress that she’s pushing towards,” Raghuveer said.
For her part, Rankin wrote that she hopes her legacy will be “the strong peer education program” she leaves behind at OSAPR.
According to Barreira’s announcement email, administrators will conduct a search to fill the OSAPR director position, though he did not specify a timeline for that search.
—Staff writer Madeline R. Conway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MadelineRConway.
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