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Dudley Celebrates 25th Anniversary as Graduate Student Center

By Valia P. Leifer, Contributing Writer

This weekend Dudley House is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a center for graduate students at Harvard.

Dudley House has been home to Harvard’s students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences since 1991, and aims to combat the loneliness graduate school can engender by giving students across academic programs a place to gather, according to James M. Hogle, the faculty dean of Dudley House.

With its building for graduate students located in Harvard Yard’s Lehman Hall, Dudley houses Café Gato Rojo, a library, game room, dining hall, and spaces for graduate students across all of the GSAS departments to get to know one another, work, and relax.

“Graduate school can become an isolating experience, and Dudley House gives [students] an opportunity to meet people outside their degree programs and encourages them to consider the fact that they are whole people—not just people chained to a laboratory bench or a library carrel,” Hogle said.

Indeed, Dudley House employs a group of around 26 graduate students every year, known as the “Dudley Fellows,” who work in nine programming areas to organize activities, student publications, and events.

“This place is fabulous. This is students’ home away from home. And it’s inspired by and a part of the House system,” Susan Zawalich, the administrator of Dudley House, said. Along with housing graduate students, Dudley is also the home for some undergraduate students living outside the College's residential House system.

Yet, Dudley House has not always been the center of graduate student life. The House was founded in 1935 and originally known as the Center for Off Campus Boys, according to a history of Dudley prepared by Hogle.

But, in the 1980s, graduate students started pushing for a place of their own. Garth O. McCavana, the current dean of student affairs for GSAS, was vice president of the Graduate Student Council at the time and was the first student to sign the petition for a community center.

“We petitioned for a place in the Yard, a library space, and a café—and we got everything that we asked for,” McCavana said.

In 1991, Dudley transitioned from being the non-resident undergraduate House to serving a small community of undergraduates and all of the graduate students in GSAS.

Twenty-five years later, Dudley House is celebrating with a weekend full of events, including an open house, a reunion for the Dudley Fellows, and a beer tasting.

While many Harvard students know Dudley House as a place where they can relax or grab a cup of coffee, its central location also serves as a key landmark for tourists.

“Along with John Harvard, it’s the most photographed spot in Harvard Yard,” McCavana said.

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