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House Renewal and the Student Experience

At Harvard, learning and discovery happen everywhere. Our students learn about leadership, about the world, and about themselves in many places around campus and beyond—from art studio to athletic field, from soup kitchen to stage, and especially around the dinner table in their Houses.

Eliot House Co-Masters Douglas Melton and Gail O'Keefe

Faculty Deans of Lowell House Dorothy Austin (center) and Diana Eck (right) are joined by Ellie Brinkley ’13 as they display a House flag on Housing Day in Harvard Yard. Photo credit: Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

The Houses are among Harvard’s most important learning places, where undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty live, work, and learn together. Ninety-seven percent of Harvard College upperclassmen live in one of the 12 Houses—communities where risks are taken, confidence is built, and connections are made with peers, faculty, and tutors. The Houses bring Harvard down to scale, shaping memories and forging friendships that last a lifetime.

As every College graduate understands, the Houses are more than just residences—they are multifaceted communities that provide undergraduates with an intellectual as well as physical home. Alongside interactions with peers, the presence of faculty deans brings the faculty into the lives of undergraduates and unites academic and residential life. Tutors—graduate students pursuing their own scholarly endeavors at Harvard—also live side by side with undergraduates. Bolstered by this community of mentors, undergraduates find themselves in an environment designed to cultivate creative risk taking and personal discovery. The Houses are the great connector, fully immersing students in the intellectual life of Harvard and exposing them to new perspectives.

In a world moving ever faster and demanding more of every institution, for Harvard to continue as a premier source of ideas and leadership—advancing teaching, learning, and research—we must invest to reinvent and reinvigorate the Houses. The Harvard Campaign for Arts and Sciences offers our generation an opportunity to transform residential education and the academic and communal experiences of our students.

by the numbers97% of upperclassmen call one of the 12 Houses home while at Harvard

 

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House Renewal is the most ambitious capital project in Harvard College’s history. It can be realized only through partnerships between the University and our most dedicated alumni and friends. The Harvard Campaign is our moment to forge these partnerships and transform the lives of College students—the inventors, risk takers, and problem solvers; scientists, scholars, and statesmen; poets, teachers, and entrepreneurs, who are key to Harvard’s future and to leading change in the world.

More than 80 years ago, Harvard set the new standard for liberal arts education in the United States with the establishment of the seven original Houses. The River Houses were funded with a visionary gift of $13 million from Edward Harkness. This gift gave Harvard the chance not only to build needed Houses but also to adapt existing buildings to meet the evolving needs of students.

We want to preserve the historic character and the culture of our Houses, while renewing the House life experience as a part of a 21st-century approach to liberal arts education.

— Michael D. Smith, Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, John H. Finley, Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Through the Campaign, we have the opportunity to reaffirm the central role of the Houses in undergraduate education. Once again, this commitment to advancing residential education will require philanthropy on a significant scale. The investment is critical. The need is urgent.

Physical improvements to the Houses will be meaningful. Their purpose is to encourage the interaction of the people within, recognizing the changing needs of our students and the changing world in which they are learning.

The renewal of the Houses will yield an array of improved spaces, carefully designed to better enable education, exploration, relaxation, and socialization. For example, renewed Houses will feature a larger number of common areas—including lounges and art and performance spaces—as well as enhanced connectivity in learning spaces with wireless Internet and in classrooms and seminar rooms with SMART Boards, Skype capabilities, and other technology support on each floor.

New hall and stairway configurations will promote greater student-adviser engagement, foster small-group and peer-to-peer learning, and enhance the development of community, which will facilitate greater opportunities for students and advisers to connect. Ties between graduate student tutors and undergraduate residents will be strengthened through the creation of advising communities in which tutors and students live, socialize, and study more closely together. The original exteriors of the Houses represent a magnificent architectural heritage that will be united with student needs today and in the future.

House life has been a cornerstone of the Harvard College experience for generations of undergraduates. Through this campaign, we can ensure that the Houses are not only cornerstones but also launchpads for the next generation of world-changing leaders. In the process, we will create a legacy of generosity that will stand for future generations of students living and learning in our Houses.

Priority Stories

Plans for “Winthrop East,” a five-story addition to Gore Hall Nov 3, 2015

Winthrop House Do-Over

A second plan for the renewal of Winthrop House is unveiled.
Dunster House Aug 29, 2015

No Loss of Character in New-Look Dunster

The House reopens after a 15-month renewal project.
Rendering of Winthrop House Feb 11, 2015

Renewing Winthrop House

Planners gather ideas for how to update and improve College living spaces.
Faculty of Arts and Sciences Assistant Dean Merle Bicknell (right) led a tour of the Leverett House renewal construction site back in May. Bicknell received valuable renovation input from residents like Sarah Abushaar ’14 (left). Dec 9, 2014

Leverett’s Evolution

After 15 months of renovation, Leverett House shatters expectations.

Giving Opportunities

When you choose to support House Renewal and the Student Experience at Harvard, your gift contributes to advancing residential education and enhancing our students’ academic and communal experiences.

  • House Renewal Support Funds

    House Renewal Support Funds

    House Renewal is an opportunity to transform the student experience by providing spaces and facilities designed to enhance education, exploration, and socialization.

  • Advising Communities

    Advising Communities

    Advising communities enhance personal and academic support for students by creating an environment where graduate student tutors and undergraduates live, study, and socialize closely together.

  • Dining Rooms

    Dining Rooms

    A gift to name a dining room renews the space that truly serves as the hub of House activity and social life.

Contact us for more ways to get involved

campaign@fas.harvard.edu

1-800-VERITAS

Harvard Alumni Affairs and Development
124 Mount Auburn Street
Cambridge, MA 02138