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Mather Residents Praise Lassonde

As Dean of Student Life prepares to leave post, Mather residents question departure and praise his work

Dean Stephen Lassonde’s residence at the top of Mather House Tower.
Dean Stephen Lassonde’s residence at the top of Mather House Tower.
By Jalin P. Cunningham, Crimson Staff Writer

Dean of Student Life Stephen Lassonde’s imminent departure has left many undergraduates in Mather questioning his sudden exit and praising his involvement in the House, where he currently lives.

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana has not publicly commented on the matter since announcing Lassonde’s departure from one of the College’s top administrative posts in a brief email last Friday. In the message, Khurana thanked Lassonde for his tenure at the helm of the Office of Student Life and wrote that Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67 will serve in the post until the College finds a replacement.

Lassonde, who will no longer be an employee of Harvard College on Feb. 1, was scheduled to teach a course and lead the search for Currier’s new House masters. In the days since Khurana detailed Lassonde’s departure—and with his course listing now inactive—undergraduates praised Lassonde, who has declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding his exit.

Dean Stephen Lassonde’s residence at the top of Mather House Tower.
Dean Stephen Lassonde’s residence at the top of Mather House Tower. By Sidni M. Frederick

In an emailed statement, Michael D. Rosengarten, Co-Master of Mather House lauded Lassonde, who lives on the 19th floor of Mather's tower. Rosengarten said he and Christie McDonald, the other co-Master of Mather House, were “so surprised” when they learned the news late Friday afternoon.

“Dean Lassonde is a highly valued member of the Mather community and… I was surprised at the announcement and that I was made aware of his transition by the email from Dean Khurana,” Rosengarten later wrote in an email.

College spokesperson Rachael Dane declined to comment on the specifics of Lassonde’s departure.

For many Mather undergraduates, Lassonde’s exit would mean a loss for the House.

“He was always a friendly face in Mather,” said Mather House Committee Chair Avni Nahar ’17. “It was always nice to see him and his wife in the dining hall or on the shuttle.” Nahar said she sent an email to Lassonde on Friday to thank him for his tenure and lament his departure.

Al B. Corvah ’18, a Crimson business editor and one of Mather’s Undergraduate Council representatives, said Lassonde helped him acclimate to the House.

“He really made me feel at home,” Corvah said.

Corvah said Lassonde’s influence has extended beyond Mather House, emphasizing that Lassonde was “deeply involved,” with both the UC and the Black Men’s Forum.

Eduardo A. Gonzalez ’18, another Mather House UC representative, said Lassonde attended many of the Council’s general meetings.

“No other administrator did that,” Gonzalez said. “It was such a nice presence to have him there.”

Gonzalez lauded Lassonde for what he said was an effort to get to know and remember undergraduates.

“He genuinely remembers students,” Gonzalez said. “Even though I’m one of hundreds, maybe thousands of students he interacted with… he remembered my name.”

Nahar and Gonzalez said that Mather residents are questioning why Lassonde is leaving his post.

“Students have definitely been curious,” Nahar said.

—Staff writer Jalin P. Cunningham can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @JalinCunningham.

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Undergraduate CouncilHouse LifeCollege AdministrationMather

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