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Zipser, Laibson to Serve as Lowell’s Faculty Deans Starting Next Year

Dean for Faculty Affairs and Planning Nina Zipser and Economics Professor David I. Laibson ’88 will serve as the faculty deans of Lowell House beginning next academic year, Lowell’s current faculty deans announced in an email  to House affiliates Thursday.

Zipser and Laibson will take over from  Diana L. Eck and Dorothy A. Austin, who will hold the job until the end of this academic year. Eck and Austin — affectionately known as “D & D” — have served as Lowell’s faculty deans for 20 years.

The new deans will take over during the first year after the renovated Lowell House opens. Lowell — the fifth of Harvard’s 12 undergraduate residential houses to be renewed — is currently in the second year of its two-year renovation project.

In the meantime, Zipser and Laibson will join Lowell’s Senior Common Room — a group of nonresidential House affiliates — and adjust to leading the House this year, per Eck and Austin’s email. 

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Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana wrote in an email announcing the appointment to College affiliates that he thinks Zipser and Laibson will be great faculty deans.

“Nina and David bring extraordinary passion and remarkable commitment to fostering the education of the next generation of leaders, and they will be tremendous assets to Lowell House and Harvard’s residential community,” he wrote.

Eck and Austin announced in March that they would step down next year, and wrote that a search committee comprising students, staff, and members of Lowell’s Senior Common Room would choose their successors before the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.

In an interview Thursday, Laibson said he and Zipser are “ecstatic” to be leading Lowell next academic year.

“We see our students going on to do so many exciting and important things and to be a bigger part of their lives is very important to us,” he said.

Zipser and Laibson will come to their new posts with years of experience at Harvard. Zipser, who earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard in 2000, began teaching math at the University in 2003 and became Dean for Faculty Affairs in 2008. After earning his undergraduate degree from the College and studying at the London School of Economics as a Marshall Scholar, Laibson returned to Harvard in 1994 and has taught at the University ever since. From 2015-2018, he served as chair of the economics department.

In their email, Eck and Austin wrote they think Zisper and Laibson are a “perfect ‘fit’ for the House.”

“David and Nina are deeply humanistic and interested in the people-oriented aspect of their vocational calling,” Eck and Austin wrote. “They are fun to be with and full of ideas.”

Khurana praised Eck and Austin for creating a “vibrant intergenerational community” at Lowell.

“I am so grateful to Diana and Dorothy for the immeasurable work they have done supporting our students in ways large and small,” he wrote. “They will leave behind a legacy of inclusiveness and bringing out the best in those around them.”

—Staff writer Caroline S. Engelmayer can be reached at caroline.engelmayer@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @cengelmayer13.

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