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Nekesa Straker Appointed Senior Assistant Dean of Residential Life and First-Year Students

University Hall.
University Hall. By Kathryn S. Kuhar
By Samuel W. Zwickel, Crimson Staff Writer

Nekesa C. Straker will serve as the new senior assistant dean of residential life and first-year students starting next academic year, Associate Dean of Students Lauren E. Brandt announced in an email to undergraduates Thursday afternoon.

“In her new role, Nekesa will be responsible for leading the First Year Experience (FYE) office, which will include everything from managing the Resident Deans of First-Year Students, overseeing residential life initiatives to help orient and support the incoming class, and coordinate housing assignments for first-year students,” Brandt wrote.

Straker’s responsibilities will include training residential staff, overseeing pre-orientation programs, planning freshman Convocation, coordinating undergraduate advising, and sitting on the Administrative Board, according to Brandt’s email.

Straker wrote in an emailed statement that she is excited to bring her "enthusiasm" to the job.

“I am excited to bring to the Yard my enthusiasm for supporting students throughout their first-year residential experience and it’s an honor to be joining such a talented team,” Straker wrote. “I am looking forward to beginning in June and getting to know the students that make up the Harvard College community.”

Straker currently oversees residential life for undergraduates at Boston College as its director of residential education, a job she began in 2015.

“In that role she has been responsible for managing the day-to-day experience of residential life for 7,600 residents spanning across 14 residential communities,” Brandt’s announcement reads.

Before her work in Chestnut Hill, Straker held related administrative positions at Seattle University, DePaul University, and New York University — where she concentrated especially on freshman life — and worked for the admissions office of a private K-12 school system in Seattle.

Straker — who is originally from New York City — completed her undergraduate degree at Vassar College and graduate coursework at Seattle University. She is currently finishing a doctorate in higher education leadership at Regis College.

The new hire follows a year of major administrative restructuring at the College. The Dean of Student's Office, led by Dean of Students Katherine G. O’Dair, formed as the result of a July 2018 merger between the Freshman Dean’s Office and the Office of Student Life. Administrators said they decided to make the changes to centralize administrative oversight of residential and social life for College students.

Straker will begin her tenure June 17.

—Staff writer Samuel W. Zwickel can be reached at samuel.zwickel@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @samuel_zwickel.

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