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College Announces New Mather, Dunster Faculty Deans

Sean D. Kelly, chair of the General Education review committee, discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the current undergraduate Gen Ed program on Thursday afternoon in Emerson Hall.
Sean D. Kelly, chair of the General Education review committee, discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the current undergraduate Gen Ed program on Thursday afternoon in Emerson Hall.
By Graham W. Bishai, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: April 25, 2017 at 8:00 p.m.

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana unveiled the next Faculty Deans for both Dunster and Mather House in an email Tuesday.

L. “Maha” Mahadevan—a professor of Applied Mathematics, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Physics—and Amala Mahadevan, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, will serve as Faculty Deans of Mather House.

Sean D. Kelly and Cheryl Chen, both faculty members in the Philosophy department, will serve as Faculty Deans of Dunster House. Kelly and Chen will move into Dunster with their two children, ages 12 and 7.

Philosophy professor Sean D. Kelly, pictured here in 2015, will serve as a Faculty Dean of Dunster House.
Philosophy professor Sean D. Kelly, pictured here in 2015, will serve as a Faculty Dean of Dunster House. By Jennifer Y Yao

The new Faculty Deans will take their posts beginning next academic year.

“We’re incredibly excited about it,” Kelly said. “We loved everything that we saw about Dunster House. Our whole family is just incredibly thrilled to have that in our future.”

These appointments in the neighboring River Houses come after current Mather Faculty Deans Michael D. Rosengarten and Christie McDonald announced their retirements in Dec. 2016. Dunster Faculty Deans Roger B. Porter and Ann R. Porter announced in March 2017 that they would also step down at the end of the academic year.

McDonald and Rosengarten were at Mather for seven years, while the Porters led Dunster House for 16 years.

In an email sent to the Faculty Deans of Harvard’s 12 residential undergraduate Houses, Khurana announced the new appointments, writing that he was “delighted that these four thoughtful and talented members of our Harvard community will be serving as faculty deans.”

“They are devoted teachers, scholars, and community members who are deeply committed to ensuring that each Harvard house feels like a home where students can bring together their academic, social, and personal passions and pursuits,” Khurana wrote.

L. “Maha” Mahadevan, a professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, also serves as the SEAS Area Dean for Applied Mathematics. He has previously taught at MIT and Cambridge University in England.

Amala Mahadevan is an oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a leading marine science research center. She also is on the faculty of the institute’s Joint Program in Oceanography with MIT. She studies carbon cycle in the ocean and climate change.

The Mahadevans have two children, both of whom are students at Harvard College.

Kelly’s scholarship in philosophy focuses on phenomenological and cognitive neuroscientific aspects to the human experience. He has also taught courses on French and German philosophical works. Before coming to Harvard, he taught at Stanford and Princeton.

Kelly recently chaired the committee tasked with overhauling the College’s General Education requirements. Kelly said this engagement sparked an interest in the residential House system at Harvard.

“In thinking about [the Gen Ed program], and exploring the history of Gen Ed at Harvard, I came to realize what an important role Houses play, and are intended to play in the whole educational experience at the College. And I found that really intriguing and exciting,” Kelly said.

Chen’s work focuses on philosophy of mind and epistemology. She is also interested in the philosophy of religion. She also serves as the Associate Head Tutor in the philosophy department. Before coming to Harvard, she was an assistant professor at Bryn Mawr College.

In his email, Khurana also thanked McDonald, Rosengarten, and the Porters for their time served as Faculty Deans—formerly called House Masters until the name was changed last year.

“We were all fortunate to have them in these roles for so many years – and they will be truly missed,” Khurana wrote.

—Staff writer Graham W. Bishai can be reached at graham.bishai@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @GrahamBishai.

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