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Administration to Replace House Master Title This Week

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana.
Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana.
By Ignacio Sabate, Crimson Staff Writer

By the end of this week, the House master title will likely be no more.

Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith will reveal the new title at Wednesday’s House master meeting, according to Mather House co-Master Michael D. Rosengarten. According to Lowell House co-Master Diana L. Eck, the new name may be revealed before the end of this week.

In an interview last Friday, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana said Smith would make the final decision.

In December, the College’s 24 House masters, who collectively lead the upperclassmen residential halls, unanimously agreed to change their title. In the context of recent protests against racism at universities across the nation, and debate over the place of controversial historic names on campuses, the title has been criticized by students and Harvard affiliates as gendered and associated with slavery.

Specifics of the meeting and potential replacement names put forth by House masters in previous discussions have not been made public. FAS Spokesperson Anna Cowenhoven did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon, and College Spokesperson Rachael Dane declined to comment on the record.

“Of note, from my point of view there are two parts to this, the dropping of the 'Master' title and the selection of a new title in keeping with the 21st century,” Rosengarten wrote in an email. “Both are important but the first part may be the most important.”

The impending change comes months after the initial announcement, followed by slow progress on finding a replacement title.

“The recommendation to change the title has been a thoughtful one, rooted in a broad effort to ensure that the College’s rhetoric, expectations, and practices around our historically unique roles reflects and serves the 21st century needs of residential student life,” Khurana told faculty members at a meeting in December.

University President Drew G. Faust has also voiced her support for the name change.

Harvard’s peer institutions are also grappling with their iteration of the title. Last month, MIT house masters also unanimously voted to request to change their title of “Housemaster.” According to John M. Essigmann, one of MIT’s more than 25 housemasters, House administrators have settled on two potential alternatives: House Dean and Head of House.

—Staff writer Ignacio Sabate can be reached at ignacio.sabate@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @ignacio_sabate.

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