Lassonde to Depart Mather in June, Unsure of What Lies Ahead

Former Dean of Student Life Stephen Lassonde will move out of Mather House at the end of June, unsure of what lies ahead after stepping down from his administrative post in the middle of this academic year.

“I’m hoping it will be a job where I see students everyday,” Lassonde said, adding that he hopes to find a similar position to the one he held in the Office of Student Life, and expects to hear back from academic employers in the next few weeks.

In an email to undergraduates sent in late January, Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana announced that Lassonde—who had led the Office of Student Life since 2013—would step down from his post on Feb. 1. The email did not cite any reason for the departure. Although Lassonde departed from his administrative role, he stayed on for a semester as a lecturer in the History Department.

Standing on the balcony of the 19th floor of Mather, where Lassonde has lived and been actively involved over the course of his tenure, he reflected positively on his time at the College.

“The thing that I will miss most when I leave here are the students,” Lassonde said. “It’s a thrill to be able to teach such talented and engaged people, I love it.”


During his time at Harvard, Lassonde oversaw a spike in administrative funding and programming for undergraduate social life. Lassonde said the development is representative of a larger national trend in higher education of increasing administrative oversight of students’ social lives.

“The larger national trend is increasing diversification, and the admissions office at every institution that knows what it’s doing is looking at the next 20 to 30 years and what the trends are and trying to show that in the accommodations they have for their students,” Lassonde said. “Harvard’s absolutely a part of that.”

However, as universities increase their programming and oversight over social life, Lassonde emphasized the need for administrators to “be very explicit about what your aims are.”

Looking back on his time as a lecturer and Dean of Student Life, Lassonde offered a number of suggestions for students.

“These selective institutions are by nature attracting competitive people who are thinking about what’s coming next but aren’t focusing on who’s sitting across from them at the dining hall table,” Lassonde said. “One thing I tell students that just goes in one ear and out the other is just look across the table and have a conversation.”

In an email, Lassonde added that he is currently writing a book about “the changing relationship of American children to authority during the 20th century.”

The College has yet to announce a permanent head of the Office of the Student Life. Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman is currently serving as interim Dean of Student Life.

—Staff writer Ignacio Sabate can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ignacio_sabate.


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