Khurana Opts for Annenberg Breakfast over Campaign Pitches

Dean Khurana in the Faculty Club
Dean Rakesh Khurana addresses students at the Faculty Club on Friday afternoon. The speech was part of a larger reception held for individuals working in public service over the summer.

New Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana is prioritizing facetime with undergraduates over courting potential Harvard donors.

In an interview Wednesday, his first sit-down with The Crimson since he assumed the deanship in July, Khurana said he has been spending at least three-fourths of his time meeting with students since they came to campus. Meanwhile, he said he intends to be only minimally involved with The Harvard Campaign, the University’s $6.5 billion fundraising drive.

“My goal is to be a present dean at the College,” Khurana said, adding that he thinks that being physically on campus is critical to his role as dean and co-master of Cabot House.

When asked what proportion of his time he expects to spend on the capital campaign, Khurana said he “would be surprised if it was in the single percentage digits. Not much higher than two, three percent.”


The College is slated to reap benefits in the form of undergraduate House renewal and financial aid, among other priorities, from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ $2.5 billion portion of the campaign.

Donald H. Pfister, former interim dean of the College and Khurana’s predecessor, similarly attended few fundraising events when he was in University Hall last year. But since the campaign’s public phase kicked off last fall, other administrators have devoted increasing amounts of their time to fundraising and travel. FAS Dean Michael D. Smith and University President Drew G. Faust have said that they spend, half and up to half of their time on the effort, respectively.

Khurana meets with students at SOCH
Dean Rakesh Khurana addressed students in person after delivering the keynote address to organization leaders at the Student Organization Center at Hilles on Wednesday evening.

Since students came to campus in August, Khurana has been highly visible, both in person and via social media. Throughout September, he gave several talks to students, meeting with the Undergraduate Council and making an appearance at a training session for student group leaders at the Student Organization Center at Hilles.

Talking to freshmen, Khurana said, has been one of his top priorities. In addition to speaking at freshman orientation programs at the start of semester, he’s taken to eating breakfast with students in Annenberg, the freshman dining hall.

He has also mingled with faculty and administrators at other public events. Earlier this week, he joined other faculty members on a panel with controversial author William Deresiewicz and discussed the purpose of higher education. Khurana is scheduled to moderate a forum discussion on the American Dream in Sanders Theatre this Saturday.

—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.