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Cabot, Kirkland House Faculty Deans to Step Down

University Hall houses multiple administrator's offices, including Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana's office.
University Hall houses multiple administrator's offices, including Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana's office. By Amanda Y. Su
By Shera S. Avi-Yonah and Delano R. Franklin, Crimson Staff Writers

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana and Stephanie R. Khurana — who currently serve as faculty deans of Cabot House — will step down from their post in the House at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year, the pair wrote in an email to house residents Monday afternoon.

Kirkland House Faculty Deans Verena A. Conley and Thomas C. Conley also wrote that they will step down in a separate email to Kirkland affiliates. The Khuranas are currently in their 10th year at the helm of Cabot; Verena Conley and Thomas Conley have led Kirkland for 20 years.

On Monday, each pair of deans addressed emails to house residents thanking them for their participation in house life.

“We are grateful to everyone for providing excitement and committing energy that have made what we believe is a strong and vibrant community,” the Conleys wrote.

“The opportunity to co-create the Cabot community with all of you has been an incredible gift, and we are so grateful for the experience of living and working alongside our phenomenal students, steadfast staff, and dedicated tutor team,” the Khuranas wrote.

The Khuranas came to Cabot in 2010 and stayed on through Rakesh Khurana’s appointment as Dean of the College in 2014. In many interviews since, Khurana has said his role at Cabot informs his work leading the College, giving him a direct window into students’ experiences. The pair cited a number of changes made in Cabot during their tenure, including the opening of the Cabot Café.

The Conleys are currently the second longest-serving faculty deans still in their roles. Adams House deans John G. “Sean” Palfrey ’67 and Judy S. Palfrey ’67 began their tenure just one year prior, in 1999. In their email, the Conleys reflected on the past two decades at Kirkland.

“Numbers speak volumes: since 2000, we have served under 5 university presidents, 4 deans of the college; we have had 10 resident deans, hired 100 tutors and graduated over 2000 students. And our 6 Bernese Mountain dogs have greeted students going to and from classes,” they wrote.

A pair of faculty deans leads each of Harvard’s 12 upperclassman residential houses. They oversee residential deans, house staff, and tutors, as well as organizing some house-wide events and serving in an advisory role for the students they oversee.

The Khuranas and Conleys’ departures means the College must fill at least three vacancies among its faculty deans.

Winthrop House will also welcome new permanent faculty deans, completing a search launched this year after Khurana decided not to renew former Winthrop Deans Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. and Stephanie R. Robinson in May. Sullivan faced intense criticism last semester following his decision to represent Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, though Khurana cited the broader “untenable” climate in the house when he announced his decision. Mark D. Gearan ’78 and Mary Herlihy-Gearan currently serve as interim deans at Winthrop.

The faculty dean search process that will begin in the coming months includes multiple stages of vetting. The Dean of the College solicits interest from tenured faculty, forms a search committee, conducts interviews with students and tutors, and consults University administrators, before making a final selection.

—Staff writer Shera S. Avi-Yonah can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @saviyonah.

—Staff writer Delano R. Franklin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @delanofranklin_.

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