Gratitude, excitement surround Graduate Commons Program leadership transition

Vinny Manoharan and Michelle Carter will become the new faculty directors for the Graduate Commons Program this summer./Courtesy of the Graduate Commons Program

3 min read

The Graduate Commons Program (GCP) will soon bid farewell to faculty directors Jim and Doreen Hogle, after seven years of service and mentorship to the Peabody Terrace community. They will retire to Vermont following a year of research at the University of Leeds (U.K.) where Jim Hogle — currently the Edward S. Harkness Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and director of the Hogle Lab — will be a visiting professor. Residents said they will miss their exceptional leadership, kind natures, and generosity of spirit.

The couple are warm and inviting hosts whose monthly open houses and other events enabled residents of all ages and affiliations to find a support system within Harvard University Housing. They’ve hosted dozens of engaging speakers as part of their commitment to “learning outside of the classroom,” reinforcing GCP’s goal to build bridges between disciplines and cultures. Special guests included George Church of Project Genome and Harvard Medical School, Pulitzer-prize winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed, and visiting gender and identity scholar Keridwen Luis.

When asked about their participation in the program, Jim and Doreen shared, “It has been a pleasure to work with the wonderful GCP staff and community advisors over the years, and a privilege to be part of the remarkably talented and engaging Peabody Terrace community of students and their families. It has truly enriched our lives, and we have learned so much from sharing with this group.”

As the Hogles take this next step, Graduate Commons is excited to welcome new faculty directors, Vinny Manoharan, Michelle Carter, and their son, Samuel, to the Peabody Terrace community this August. Vinny is the Wagner Family Professor of Chemical Engineering and Professor of Physics, and the co-director of the Quantitative Biology Initiative at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

“The Harvard experience isn’t just about academics, but also about being part of an amazing community,” said Vinny. “Unfortunately, as I learned through my work on the SEAS Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, not everyone feels that sense of belonging. The Graduate Commons Program goes a long way towards addressing that issue, and we’re eager to be part of it.”

Michelle, a practicing painter, is assistant professor and chair of the Art and Design Program at Northern Essex Community College, where she teaches drawing, painting, and design foundations. Fostering community is key to Michelle’s work at NECC, which has many non-traditional students with significant responsibilities outside of school. “My colleagues and I create a supportive environment by getting to know all our students, organizing exciting events, and emphasizing strong communication.” said Michelle. “I’m looking forward to doing similar work with the Peabody Terrace community.

“We’re grateful to the Hogles for cultivating such a welcoming community. We were drawn to this position because it’s a unique opportunity to live among and make connections between people from very different disciplines and backgrounds. We’re excited to get to know the residents!”