College Dean Rakesh Khurana declined to comment on the early exit of former faculty deans from Leverett House, but affirmed the importance of Harvard’s house system in an interview Monday.
An essential part of Harvard’s undergraduate experience is its residential system, which places each undergraduate student in one of 12 upperclass houses led by a pair of faculty deans. Khurana said the College does not comment on personnel issues when asked about the circumstances surrounding the departure of former Leverett faculty deans Brian D. Farrell and Irina P. Ferreras, who resigned suddenly in June.
The Crimson reported earlier this month that some affiliates allege Farrell and Ferreras’ leadership has been marred by a pattern of mismanagement. Neither a College spokesperson nor Farrell and Ferreras provided a reason for leaving. In 2019, Khurana did not reappoint the Deans of Winthrop House for another term following a Crimson investigation which found they were fostering a toxic culture.
When asked how the College plans to prevent instances of mismanagement and hold its faculty deans accountable, Khurana emphasized the importance of the internal system.
“The College continues to work with faculty deans, resident deans and internal staff to ensure students have a wonderful experience,” Khurana said.
Another stress test for Harvard’s house system is the rise in the number of students living in overflow housing. With the exception of Leverett, the upper classes of 11 of the 12 houses reside in overflow housing due to the unprecedented size of the Class of 2025 and ongoing home renovation projects.
Khurana said the College made a “values-based” decision in choosing to admit the same number of students despite a high number of postponements from the Class of 2024 during the Covid pandemic.
“We tried to be very clear about the consequences of this, which would be a surge of students going through the residential system,” Khurana said. “Our residential system was already strained due to house renewals, but we still felt it was important to bring students to campus. »
Still, some students in overflow housing have expressed concerns about feeling disconnected from home life and having to walk longer distances to get to dining halls.
“We hope the continued focus on house renewal and other ways to strengthen and expand the house system will help ease some of the pressure in the years to come,” Khurana said. “But it’s an ongoing challenge.”
Khurana said College administrators should focus on encouraging students to stay connected to their homes through activities such as study breaks and intramural sports.
“It’s embedded in our philosophy that the home system is really essential,” he said.
The Crimson interviews Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana once a month during the academic year. Click here submit a question for consideration at our next interview.