Quincy House Faculty Dean Lee Gehrke announced he will step down from his role at the end of the academic year in an email to House affiliates Sunday.
In the email, Gehrke wrote that the recent loss of his wife and co-faculty dean Deborah J. Gerhke — who died from breast cancer in December — spurred his decision. He added that a search for new faculty deans will commence in the spring.
“It has been such a wonderful opportunity for Deb and me to serve as your Faculty Deans...but the Faculty Dean job requires the skills and enthusiasm of two people,” he wrote.
Gehrke called Deborah the “heart and soul” of Quincy but wrote that he will remain “committed” to students throughout the rest of his tenure.
“The open houses, [Quincy Philosophical Society], Kettles, IM sports, and myriad other activities will carry on without missing a beat,” he wrote.
Harvard spokesperson Rachael Dane wrote in an emailed statement that the College will release details on the search for a new faculty dean as soon as they are available.
In the email announcing his departure, Gehrke paid tribute to his late wife and her time as Quincy House faculty dean. He described the job as a “highlight” of her life.
“Nothing brought her greater joy than wearing the Sorting Hat, welcoming the new Sophomores, playing her music at Community Dinner, organizing paint bars, Open Houses and Lip Sync, and bringing burgers to hungry competitors after IM games,” he wrote.
Gehrke also invited Quincy affiliates to a Memorial Church service to celebrate Deborah’s life on Feb. 29. He added that he is seeking grief counseling and encouraged students to do the same.
“I want you to know that I am taking advantage of counseling services to help me through my personal grief, and I encourage all of you to consider the same if you are feeling sad or depressed for any reason,” he wrote.
Former Quincy House Committee Chair Sierra M. Moore ’20 wrote in an email that Deborah Gehrke was “beloved” by House residents and said she believes her loss of will make the House “different and emptier.”
“We love Lee, and I feel so grateful that Lee and Deb gave so much to the house and shared their lives with us,” she wrote. “There are not enough words to express the grief we feel as a house, and I am keeping their family in my prayers.”
—Staff writer Declan J. Knieriem can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @DeclanKnieriem.