Campus & Community

Patricia OÕBrien named Harvard College deputy dean

3 min read

Patricia O’Brien, dean of the Simmons College School of Management, and co-master of Currier House, has been named deputy dean of Harvard College, a newly created position that will report to the dean of Harvard College. O’Brien will begin her new role on Aug. 1.

“I am delighted that Pat O’Brien, who has served us well as co-master of Currier House, and has had a leading role in revitalizing the Simmons School of Management, has accepted the position of deputy dean here,” said Dean of Harvard College Benedict H. Gross, Leverett Professor of Mathematics. “I look forward to working with her and the senior staff on the many issues facing the College. She will be an excellent addition to our team.”

As deputy dean, O’Brien will oversee all aspects of College life. She will supervise associate deans responsible for residential life, student life, undergraduate academic programs, and administration. In addition, the dean of freshmen, registrar, and director of the Office of Career Services will report to her. The deputy dean will co-chair the administrative board with Dean Gross, and will serve as primary liaison to the University Health Services. She will continue to serve as co-master of Currier House.

“Pat O’Brien is an outstanding choice for this very important position,” said Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean William C. Kirby, Edith and Benjamin Geisinger Professor of History. “She has an extraordinary combination of skills that make her ideally qualified for the position. She is a very strong leader, has exceptional management skills, and is a team builder. As co-master at Currier House, she is a mentor, adviser, and role model to hundreds of students, and she has had a stellar tenure as dean of the School of Management at Simmons. I welcome her to this new position, and look forward to working with her.”

As the dean of the School of Management at Simmons since 1997, O’Brien has reshaped the division, building a thriving teaching and learning community that included significant growth in instructional revenues, M.B.A. enrollment, and philanthropy. In her role as co-master at Currier House, she has played a very direct role in the social and academic growth of hundreds of undergraduate students.

“I am delighted and excited about becoming the first deputy dean of Harvard College,” O’Brien said. “As a co-master at Currier House, working with my husband, we have immersed ourselves in the lives of undergraduate students. In so doing, we have learned a great deal about the needs of students and the range of factors that influence the quality of their college experience. I am very pleased that, as deputy dean, I will have the opportunity to work with students across the campus. Further,” she said, “this is a time of great change at Harvard College. I look forward to working with the team that is structuring that change.”

Prior to her role as dean at Simmons, O’Brien was an associate professor at Babson College (1996-1997). Before that, she was an assistant professor (1985-1992) and then associate professor (1992 – 1996) at Harvard Business School.

O’Brien, who holds a D.B.A. from Harvard Business School, an M.B.A. from Simmons, and a B.A. in political science from Boston College, has been a volunteer and representative for many women’s organizations and groups, including the Helsinki Women’s Business Leaders Summit, the Massachusetts Women’s Forum, CIGNA Women’s Advisory Board, and Fleet Bank Women’s Entrepreneurs’ Connection Advisory Board.