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Making Harvard’s Houses home

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Campus & Community

Making Harvard’s Houses home

Latanya Sweeney (right) and Sylvia Barrett are faculty deans at Currier House. “House life at Harvard is an infrastructure that makes it easier to feel a part of a smaller community and harder to academically or socially fall through the cracks,” Barrett says. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

Making Harvard’s Houses home

Latanya Sweeney (right) and Sylvia Barrett are faculty deans at Currier House. “House life at Harvard is an infrastructure that makes it easier to feel a part of a smaller community and harder to academically or socially fall through the cracks,” Barrett says. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Faculty deans create community with ‘extended family’ of students

The faculty deans who preside over Harvard’s 12 Houses make it their mission to provide their residents with close-knit communities within the larger University. And they say their students give the same right back to them.

Sylvia Barrett says her son “feels he has over 350 brothers and sisters” at Currier House while Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan says his Labrador loves all the attention from students at Mather.

Of the eight faculty deans pictured in this gallery, four are relative newcomers: Latanya Sweeney and Barrett have resided at Currier since 2016, and Lakshminarayanan and Amala Mahadevan were installed at Mather in 2017.

The other four are seasoned veterans: Judith and Sean Palfrey of Adams House and Howard M. Georgi ’68 and Ann B. Georgi, who will be leaving this spring after 20 years leading Leverett.

“Being a faculty dean in Adams House for these last 19 years has taught us more about education, development, maturation, success, and failure than any books could ever have done,” Sean Palfrey said.

Latanya Sweeney (right) and Sylvia Barrett moved into Currier House during the summer of 2016, and they confess they thrive on the energy of being with students. “No matter how tired we are, being around our students always infuses us with excitement,” Barret says. “Each student is so unique with interesting backgrounds, opinions, knowledge, experiences, and research that it motivates and energizes us as we move forward in our lives. It infuses our research and increases our desire for new experiences.”

Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Latanya Sweeney and Sylvia Barrett (center) host numerous social events for the students. During an evening this fall, they hosted chess master Larry Christiansen, who played up to 20 challengers simultaneously. Barrett says, “Our son, Leonard, was a very shy 9-year-old before coming to Currier. Now he feels he has over 350 older brothers and sisters who have helped him begin the process to come out of his shell and build his confidence. He can always find someone willing to play chess with him and answer his endless questions.”

Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

“Currier is an exciting place where there is always something interesting going on,” Sylvia Barrett says. “Each student is an amazing individual, and we want to really know every one of them on a personal level. One of our most important goals is to optimize our time so we can spend quality time with as many of our students as possible and still have time for our immediate family.”

Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Adams House Faculty Deans Judith and Sean Palfrey view artwork and murals by former residents inside the Adams House tunnels with House Committee co-chair Hannah Smati ’18 (right).

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Judith Palfrey shares a moment with Isidor Celestin, a custodian with Harvard University Operations Services, inside the Seamus Heaney Suite. Sean Palfrey gives a tour of a photography gallery featuring original works by Galen Rowell and Bradford Washburn ’56.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

The Adams House faculty deans talk with Milo Davidson ’19 and Bailey Colfax ’19 beneath a painting of Franklin Delano Roosevelt inside the dining hall.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan, or Maha as he is known by the students, and Amala Mahadevan are the newly appointed faculty deans at Mather House. “It has been just a couple of months, but the steep learning curve makes it feel like it has been longer,” Maha says. “We inherited an excellent staff, and a very strong and caring tutor corps and are grateful to former Faculty Deans Christie McDonald and Mike Rosengarten for making the transition relatively easy.”

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

The Mahadevans joke with seniors Zarin Rahman (from left), Lenny Murphy, and Phillip Ramirez. “The warmth of the staff, tutors, and students has made it very easy for us to fit in to the community,” Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan says. “Our residence has an open plan, and makes it easy to host events for our new and enlarged family — and we have been very happy to do so,” says Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan. “And it is wonderful to be able to saunter over to D-Hall for some good food and company.”

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

The Mahadevans enjoy their sunken patio. They live with their daughter, a recent Harvard graduate who is working as a researcher and thinking about grad school, and their black Labrador, Cheetah, “a puppy at heart” who is “enjoying the attention from students and tutors.”

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Howard and Ann Georgi, faculty deans of Leverett House, with their Welsh corgi, Bandit.

Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

Bandit is the unofficial Leverett House mascot. Ann Georgi tends her rooftop garden.

Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

Ann Georgi high-fives Rory Allen, daughter of teaching fellow and resident tutor David Allen, right, at a Leverett House social gathering.

Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

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