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College Will Merge Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and the Harvard Foundation

Grays Hall in Harvard Yard, home to the College's Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
Grays Hall in Harvard Yard, home to the College's Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. By Charles K. Michael
By Shera S. Avi-Yonah and Delano R. Franklin, Crimson Staff Writers

The College’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations will join to form a single office, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana and Dean of Students Katherine G. O’Dair announced in an email to College affiliates Thursday.

In the same email, Khurana and O’Dair wrote that the Dean of Students Office will begin its search for an Associate Dean for Inclusion and Belonging, a position that has remained vacant since September, in the coming weeks. Shortly after former Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Roland S. Davis stepped down for “personal reasons,” O’Dair emailed College affiliates stating that Khurana would establish a working group of students, faculty, and staff, who would provide input on the dean search.

O’Dair also wrote that the group would review the Office’s mission.

The new dean will oversee the merger after the group selects Davis’s replacement — he left Harvard one year after taking the job.

The Thursday email stated the merger is an outgrowth of the working group’s discussions, citing the overlapping missions of the two offices.

“By bringing the work of both organizations into one office, we will be able to create an office that has full responsibility to strengthen our commitment to inclusion and belonging on campus,” the email reads.

In addition to the Harvard Foundation, the new associate dean will oversee the four other divisions of the EDI Office — the Office of BGLTQ Student Life, the Office of Diversity Education and Support, the College’s Title IX Office, and the Women’s Center. The Title IX Office reported directly to O’Dair following Davis’s departure, while Alexander R. Miller, the associate dean of student engagement, has overseen the other three divisions.

The divisions of the EDI Office supervise a number of on-campus initiatives involving peer education and support for women, BGLTQ students, and students of color. The Office of Diversity Education and Support oversees the Diversity Peer Educators — a group of student facilitators who conduct outreach and host events on behalf of the EDI Office.

The Harvard Foundation, which offers cultural programming, has been without a director since the 2017 death of its founder, Harvard Medical School Professor S. Allen Counter. After Davis’s departure, O’Dair wrote that Associate Dean of the College Joan Rouse would continue as the interim director of the Foundation.

Khurana and O’Dair wrote Thursday that the consolidated group will bring all of the College’s diversity-related programming under one umbrella.

“This new organization will bring significant student voice to programs and initiatives through strengthened support for student intern and peer educator programs, with the goal of fulfilling the important role of helping all Harvard College students live and learn in a dynamic and diverse campus environment,” they wrote.

—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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