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Katherine O’Dair, who has served as associate vice president of student affairs at Boston College, will take over the position of Dean of Students on Aug. 15 following a national search.
O’Dair will replace former Dean of Student Life Stephen Lassonde, whose departure was abruptly announced this January, days before the spring semester began. Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67 filled in the position as interim dean for the ensuing months.
“Dean O’Dair brings to Harvard College an in-depth expertise in student life and the many areas the Office of Student Life (OSL) oversees,” Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana wrote in an email to students Tuesday. “I am confident that her background and experience will serve our community well, as she works to support Harvard’s distinctive residential House system and student involvement outside the classroom.”
During O’Dair’s time at Boston College, she was responsible for overseeing the school’s counseling services, Offices of Graduate Student Life, health services, and its intercultural and women’s centers. She was also the student affairs Title IX coordinator. Prior to her time at Boston College, she served as MIT’s assistant dean in the school’s division of student life.
“I look forward to seeing her contributions to our administrations' work to integrate the academic, residential, and co-curricular spheres of students’ lives, linking out-of-classroom experiences to the mission of the College,” Khurana wrote.
The College began its search for the position this spring. The search committee—composed of four students, two faculty deans, one House resident dean, and two College administrators—was assisted by a firm in hiring for Lassonde’s position. Dingman said he did not play a role in the search process.
O’Dair will take over as the Dean of Students during a time in which the College is focused on addressing a number of campus life issues. In March, a Harvard task force released a University-wide report on campus sexual assault and called on the University to take serious measures to address the problem.
The report sharply criticized the College’s all-male final clubs and called on the University to take actions to correct the groups’ “deeply misogynistic attitudes.” In the spring, College administrators announced sanctions against members of unrecognized single-gender social organizations to maintain Harvard’s “shared commitment to broadening opportunity and making Harvard a campus for all of its students,” University President Drew G. Faust wrote in an email to undergraduates.
—Staff writer Brandon J. Dixon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonJoDixon.
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