Princeton Administrator Dunne Will Be Next Harvard College Dean of Students


Princeton Deputy Dean of Students Thomas Dunne will serve as Harvard’s next Dean of Students, the College announced Thursday.

Dunne is set to succeed former Dean of Students Katherine G. O’Dair, who left the role in October after being announced as the next University Marshal. O’Dair, who began the deanship in 2016, was replaced by Interim Dean and Associate Dean of Students Lauren E. Brandt ’01 during the monthslong search for a permanent successor.

Dunne said in a statement Thursday that it is a “tremendous honor” to be named Dean of Students, adding that he is excited to begin his work in the role.

“I had the opportunity to visit campus several times throughout the fall, and I was struck by the extraordinary level of engagement and enthusiasm among the student population,” Dunne said. “To all the students: I can’t wait to get to campus and meet you soon!”


Dunne has more than 20 years of experience working in Princeton’s Dean of Undergraduate Students Office, and he previously held similar roles at Boston College and Cornell University.

In an email to undergraduates Thursday, Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana wrote he has been “so impressed” with Dunne’s “investment” in the student experience during his tenure at Princeton.

“I heard story after story of how he has spent time with them in their dining halls, attended their events, championed their ideas, and helped them when they needed help,” Khurana wrote. “He views his work with students not just as a job but as a calling to create meaningful, inclusive spaces for every student.”

Khurana — whose office works closely alongside the DSO — also praised Dunne’s ability to collaborate with other administrators, describing him as “principled, inspiring, and creative.”

“I look forward to partnering with him to create a welcoming, transformative experience for our community,” Khurana wrote.

The Dean of Students Office, launched in 2018 as a merger between the Freshman Dean’s Office and the Office of Student Life, oversees the residential experience, resources for freshmen, social life, and College-wide diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Dunne will arrive at Harvard as it undergoes a sea change among high-ranking administrators. The University announced in December that it had selected Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay to serve as Harvard’s 30th president. Gay will be tasked with choosing the next dean for the FAS, and she is likely to have the final say in the search for deans of Harvard’s School of Public Health, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Divinity School.

Dunne’s tenure as dean of students will officially begin on June 1.

—Staff writer Nia L. Orakwue can be reached at
—Staff writer John N. Peña can be reached at