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Lassonde to step down to serve at Harvard

As Deputy Dean, Stephen Lassonde increased deans’ open hours and coordinated advising

Deputy Dean of the College Stephen Lassonde will step down from his position at the end of March after serving six years at the University, Dean of the College Katherine Bergeron wrote in an email to the community Jan. 14.

Lassonde will take the post of dean of student life at Harvard later this spring, Bergeron wrote.

Kathleen McSharry, associate dean of the College for writing and curriculum, will serve as interim deputy dean until a permanent replacement is hired, Bergeron told The Herald.

Bergeron said she hopes to fill the deputy dean position before July 1, the start of the next fiscal year, in order to allow the new dean the opportunity to acclimate to Brown before the fall semester.

Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services, will lead the search committee for Lassonde’s replacement, Bergeron said. The rest of the committee is still being assembled and will likely include a student representative, she said.

Lassonde was hired in the spring of 2007 as the University’s first deputy dean, Bergeron said. He previously worked at Yale as the dean of Calhoun College, one of the university’s residential colleges.

Lassonde said after many years in his position at Yale he felt there were no further opportunities for him to progress. “I had a lot of experience at the residential college level,” Lassonde said, adding that the deputy dean position at Brown was “the perfect opportunity to work at a higher level and affect policy.”

At the University, he chaired the Committee on Academic Standing, co-chaired the Brown-RISD Dual Degree Program Oversight Committee and sat on the College Curriculum Council Executive Committee.

Lassonde worked as an adjunct assistant professor of history, teaching a course entitled HIST 1973Y: “Children and Childhood in America, 1640-Present.” His academic research has focused on personal transitions, particularly the transitions from childhood to adolescence and from adolescence to adulthood, he said.

Lassonde said he also served as an advising coordinator, adding that he maintained open office hours throughout his tenure at Brown and met regularly with students. His research reflected his work as an adviser, as he observed the effects of the “pressure to succeed” on college students, he said.

“At least once a week ... I have a conversation with a student when I think, ‘This is why I’m here — to promote students’ concepts of their education,’” Lassonde said.

In her email, Bergeron commended Lassonde for his contribution to a closer relationship between the Office of Campus Life and Student Services and the Dean of the College.

Since 2007, the deans have aimed to become “more visible at places where students already are, instead of making them come to University Hall,” Lassonde said. Students can now come to deans’ office hours at the Nelson Fitness Center and at “advising central” in J. Walter Wilson. Deans’ open office hours have increased by 80 percent from before his tenure began, Lassonde added.

“We’re trying to get away from the image of the dean’s office as the vice principal’s office,” Lassonde said. “We’re trying to be a resource for students.”

Lassonde will begin at Harvard immediately after stepping down in March, he said. He said he is looking forward to the opportunity to observe and guide students’ development in his new position, adding that his new role will allow him to continue to work toward integrating student life and academics.



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