Eliot Masters Bring Scientific Expertise

Courtesy Gail O'Keefe

The incoming Eliot House Masters, Natural Sciences Professor Douglas A. Melton and educational consultant Gail A. O’Keefe, pose for pictures along with two of their children. The couple will take their positions beginning in the fall.

The incoming Eliot House Masters—Life Sciences Professor Douglas A. Melton and educational consultant Gail A. O’Keefe—may be new to leading a House, but they already have their share of experience with House life.

Their daughter, Emily L. Melton ’09, was Quincy House Committee chair and introduced her parents to the quirks of Harvard’s House system.

The couple knows that perennial House debates revolve around stein club locations, planning for formals, and housing day t-shirt designs—they even have former Quincy housing day t-shirts in their home.

With this background, the two scientists eagerly anticipate embedding themselves in House culture, bringing with them their passion for their profession and their extensive experience with undergraduates.




Melton and O’Keefe say they plan on enthusiastically and easily embracing House life.

“I think it will be very easy to fit into the social patterns there,” O’Keefe says.

The two say they plan to spend much of their time in the Eliot dining hall.

O’Keefe says she is a night owl but her husband is an early bird, so while she will chat with undergraduates in the dining hall at 1 a.m., he will cruise through the dining hall at 5:30 a.m.

Much of their confidence is due to their trust in the House staff and the foundation provided by outgoing Masters Lino Pertile and Anna Bensted, Melton says.

More broadly, the couple’s goal is to create a community where undergraduates can feel comfortable sharing their concerns with the couple, a culture rarely attainable in classes and office hours.

But despite their aplomb, dealing with administrative or disciplinary issues may be more difficult, they both acknowledge.

Still, Melton jokes that his biggest challenge will be learning the Eliot song.

“Gail knows I’m a terrible singer,” he quips.