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In Cabot House, Khuranas Reflect on Year Ahead

By Keren E. Rohe
By Madeline R. Conway and Steven S. Lee, Crimson Staff Writers

Cabot House Co-Master Rakesh Khurana will be spending more time in University Hall next fall after he takes the helm of Harvard College, but he and Co-Master Stephanie R. Khurana said that they will run the Quad House much the same as they have for the last three years.

“It’s my day job that changes more than my master’s job,” said Khurana, a Harvard Business School professor and incoming dean of the College.

“Basically, instead of being across the river, teaching and doing a lot of research, he will be on this side of the river during his day, doing those things,” added Stephanie Khurana, who with her husband has led Cabot since arriving in 2010.

The Khuranas sat down with The Crimson last Wednesday for the first time since the Business School professor was named the College’s next permanent leader on Jan. 22. Sitting on a couch in Cabot Café, the House masters touched on their roles in Cabot and connecting with students, while also reflecting broadly on Khurana’s new role in the Yard.

Stephanie Khurana, wearing a Cabot sweatshirt, said that her family of five enjoys living in the House. She and her husband will stay on as masters even after he assumes the deanship on July 1. “We don’t quite feel like we’re done,” she said. “We got things started. We want to see it through.”

Reflecting on the role he will play in the year ahead, Rakesh Khurana said that he plans to listen to the perspectives of students, faculty, and administrators as dean.

“The ultimate goal of the administrative part of the College is to serve two constituencies: to serve the students and to serve the faculty,” the incoming dean said. “And ultimately the success of Harvard College depends on the success of our community working together, and that to me is the students, faculty, and the staff enabling them.”

Still, Khurana recognized the challenges that will come with the new role, although he indicated that he thought it was premature to go into specifics regarding College policy and plans for next year. “I’m going to have to understand how it all comes together, so yes—it will be hard, super hard,” he said. “The good thing is that there are a lot of smart people here.”

Since becoming a House master, Khurana has served on multiple College policy committees. He serves on the Academic Integrity Committee and was one of several members who wrote a recent draft of what would be the College’s first honor code. He also sits on the University’s electronic communication policy task force and co-chaired the College’s alcohol policy committee from 2011-2012.

To interact with undergraduates outside of his own House, Khurana said that he has already eaten with some students at Greenhouse Café, sat down for lunch in a River House, and attended Lowell Tea. In the next six months, Khurana said he plans to reach out to faculty and students to “hear about their thoughts about the College” and “out of that develop an informed perspective.”

The incoming dean indicated that he was a “fan” of Interim Dean of the College Donald H. Pfister and his regular email correspondence with the student body, but added that he would look for his own way to connect with undergraduates. “I think every person has to find...their style,” Khurana said. He and Pfister appeared together at Kirkland House’s centennial celebration last Friday.

Though many have praised the appointment, Khurana said, “it’s not something I had in my career plan....You just don’t know where things take you.”

Khurana was named Pfister’s successor by Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith shortly before the spring semester began. Pfister has served as dean in the interim since last July, after Evelynn M. Hammonds stepped down. Khurana will be Harvard’s first dean of the College of Indian descent and the first in recent memory to serve as a House master concurrently.

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

—Staff writer Steven S. Lee can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @StevenSJLee.

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