Welcoming You Back for Another Great Year

August 21, 2018

Dear Harvard College Students,
I hope you have enjoyed a relaxing and productive summer! It has been a busy couple of months for the faculty and staff here at Harvard College and we look forward to another outstanding academic year. As we make final preparations to welcome you back to campus, I am delighted to have the opportunity to update you on some of the recent work we have done, as well some new initiatives and upcoming events.
As you are aware from the message sent by Danoff Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana last spring, the former Freshman Dean’s Office (FDO) and Office of Student Life (OSL) were officially reorganized into the new Dean of Students Office (DSO) this summer. The DSO centralizes services to provide support for students throughout your entire four-year experience at Harvard College. As part of this reorganization, some offices and staff locations have changed, so I encourage you to visit the DSO website for more information. DSO staff will be visible throughout the first few weeks of the semester as we re-introduce ourselves and our new office.
Also this summer, we launched the process for single-gender social organizations to apply to become Recognized Social Organizations (RSO’s.) We look forward to meeting with all potential RSO’s at the start of the academic year to discuss their plans to contribute to a vibrant and inclusive social life at Harvard. We will be working hard to ensure that we are supportive of groups and are promoting inclusivity throughout our campus. It is our hope to share with you a list of the recognized social organizations by early September.
Harvard University’s mission to create and support inclusive social spaces continues with the opening of the new Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center in the coming weeks.  The new center provides a centrally-located setting for students to collaborate, study, enjoy great food, or simply relax.  I am especially excited about the many new common areas and outdoor lounge spaces, rooms for large or small meetings, and a diverse line-up of local, healthy, fast, and casual restaurants. I strongly encourage you to use these spaces early and often to bring a robust Harvard College student presence to this incredible center.


As part of the opening festivities, two big events are being planned just for students:

  • Smith Campus Center After Dark Party
    On Friday, September 14 from 9:00pm-1:00am, join students from across the University for live music, DJ’s, dancing, art-making, and free food on all levels of the new Campus Center.
  • Smith Campus Center Movie Night
    On Saturday, September 15 from 8:00pm-10:00pm, join your fellow students for a special screening of Incredibles 2 with complimentary popcorn, drinks, and candy for all current Harvard students.
Also upcoming is the Student Involvement Fair, which will take place this year on Friday, September 7th at 3:00pm in Tercentenary Theater. This exciting change brings one of our most popular student events to the Yard and will culminate with the official kickoff of the Dean of Students Office from 5:30pm-9:30pm with Crimson Jam, a campus-wide block party co-hosted by the DSO and the College Events Board.
While we have accomplished a great deal over the summer, there is more work ahead for us to complete together. An important goal for the Dean of Students Office this year is to identify ways to increase student representation in matters related to your experience at Harvard and increase dialogue between DSO offices and students. Though I will see you at many of the events listed above, at various gatherings and out and about in the Yard, your House, and beyond, I also encourage you to take advantage of our regular office hours. Every Friday, I and the Associate Deans in DSO (Dean Lauren Brandt, Dean Alex Miller, and Dean Roland Davis) will be holding office hours from 2:00pm-4:00pm. To sign up for office hours, please visit the DSO website.
The start of the fall semester is a special time – one of new beginnings, continuing journeys and reunions with friends. Harvard College is an extraordinary institution steeped in history, but what makes it so special is each of you. You are not only a part of Harvard, you not only belong at Harvard, you are Harvard. We take great pride in the enormous strength that comes from our diversity, and each of you have an important role and voice in our community.
Please connect with me and with the talented staff in the DSO. When I meet students for the first time, they often say is “oh – I know you - you’re the person who sends those emails!” While it is good for me to know you are reading my emails, it is always better to meet in person, and I look forward to meeting each and every one of you.
Kind Regards,
Katie O’Dair
Dean of Students