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College Announces New Adams House Faculty Deans

The current Adams House faculty deans, Judith S. Palfrey '67 and John G. Sean Palfrey '67, announced in December 2020 they would retire at the end of the academic year after two decades in their roles.
The current Adams House faculty deans, Judith S. Palfrey '67 and John G. Sean Palfrey '67, announced in December 2020 they would retire at the end of the academic year after two decades in their roles. By Megan M. Ross
By Hannah J. Martinez, Crimson Staff Writer

Mercedes C. Becerra ’91 and Salmaan Keshavjee will serve as the new faculty deans of Adams House, Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana announced in a Tuesday email to Adams House affiliates.

Becerra is a professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, while Keshavjee serves as an Anthropology professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as well as a Global Health and Social Medicine professor at the Medical School. They will begin their roles on July 1.

Khurana wrote that he was “thrilled to welcome” the new pair of deans and also thanked Adams House affiliates for their support during the search.

“Over the course of the last several months, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Mercedes and Salmaan. I was struck by their warm and thoughtful nature, their kindness, and their commitment to building a sense of inclusion and belonging in everything they do,” he wrote. “This fall, as we bring our full community together again, these attributes will be more important than ever.”

“Members of the Adams community dedicated their time and energy and gave meaningful input that was invaluable in helping us make this decision,” Khurana added.

The current deans, Judith S. Palfrey ’67 and John G. “Sean” Palfrey ’67, announced in December 2020 they would retire at the end of the academic year after two decades in their roles.

The Palfreys told The Crimson at the time that their retirement had been planned the year prior, but they ultimately chose to postpone their plans to step down to support students through the coronavirus crisis. They are currently the longest-serving pair of faculty deans.

Judith Palfrey said in an interview Tuesday that her time serving as a faculty dean had been a “blessing.”

“We have just been ultimately blessed by the students, by the tutors, by every aspect of the program, and all of the incredible opportunities that we’ve had to get to know people in the House and to create a community with pretty important values, and to have the opportunity to work with our senior common room, with the staff, with everybody, towards those common values,” she said.

The Palfreys said they were excited about the appointment of Becerra and Keshavjee.

“They are just fantastic people. Both of them are teachers, and they are both involved in global health — they are going to bring so much,” Judith Palfrey said.

As their tenure comes to a close, the Palfreys said they were looking forward to their retirement.

“We will move from [Adams House] physically to the Cape,” Sean Palfrey said. “We will probably continue to teach an Extension School class similar to the one we’ve taught as a freshman seminar for 20 some odd years. We will do things that we haven’t had a chance to do for the past 45 years or so.”

“There are a lot of exciting things happening with our own family, and we’ll be doing a lot with them,” Judith Palfrey added.

—Staff writer Hannah J. Martinez can be reached at hannah.martinez@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @martinezhannahj.

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