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Harvard Taps Holly Jensen to Lead Communications for Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Holly Jensen will serve as Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences' next associate dean for communications.
Holly Jensen will serve as Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences' next associate dean for communications. By Michael Gritzbach
By Tilly R. Robinson and Neil H. Shah, Crimson Staff Writers

Holly Jensen will serve as the next associate dean for communications for Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, FAS Dean Hopi E. Hoekstra announced Tuesday.

Jensen, who begins her role on Thursday, currently serves as the vice president of communications at the University of Arizona and has prior experience in public affairs and crisis management roles at the U.S. Department of State and the FBI. Before joining the State Department, Jensen filmed combat footage in Iraq during a stint at the U.S. Army-run American Forces Network from 2003 to 2008, according to her LinkedIn.

Hoekstra wrote in an email to FAS communications staff that Jensen was “prized by colleagues as much for her personal integrity as for her sound judgment and sharp press instincts,” adding that she is a “skilled and empathetic communicator” who is “well-versed in the complex issues of higher education.”

The appointment comes during a busy time for public relations officials across the University. Over the last year, Harvard has had to do damage control over a landmark Supreme Court ruling overturning its affirmative action policies, criticism and a congressional investigation over its response to antisemitism on campus, and the resignation of former Harvard President Claudine Gay following backlash to her congressional testimony and allegations of plagiarism.

In recent months, the University has also turned to external PR consultants and white shoe law firms to aid its response to the fallout surrounding the recent controversies.

The FAS position had been left empty since former FAS Associate Dean of Communications Anna Cowenhoven departed Harvard last summer to lead communications at the University of Pennsylvania. Jill Radsken, the editorial director of FAS communications, and Jonathan Palumbo, Harvard College’s senior director of communications and engagement, have filled the role in the interim.

“She is a national and international media expert recognized for creating strategies to convey sensitive and complex subjects, including hostage recovery, national security, defense, and foreign policy matters,” Hoekstra wrote.

“I could not be more excited to welcome Holly to Harvard. I am confident that FAS will benefit enormously from her wisdom and guidance as, together, we advance our School’s priorities and champion the aspirations of our academic community,” Hoekstra added.

Correction: January 31, 2024

A previous version of this article stated incorrectly that Hoekstra’s email was sent to faculty. In fact, she sent the email to FAS communications staff.

—Staff writer Tilly R. Robinson can be reached at Follow her on X @TillyRobin.

—Staff writer Neil H. Shah can be reached at Follow him on X @neilhshah15.

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