Harvard Dean of Science Christopher Stubbs to Step Down at End of Academic Year


Harvard Dean of Science Christopher W. Stubbs is stepping down at the end of the academic year, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Hopi E. Hoekstra announced at a faculty meeting Tuesday.

The announcement comes hours after The Crimson reported that Dean of Arts and Humanities Robin E. Kelsey will step down at the end of the academic year.

Hoekstra had emailed Science faculty announcing Stubbs’ departure yesterday afternoon, according to an email obtained by The Crimson.

“Chris’s tenure as Dean has been marked by his clear vision, thoughtful leadership, and staunch advocacy for Science, and I am grateful for all that he has accomplished,” Hoekstra wrote.


Hoekstra also shared Kelsey’s departure during the faculty meeting Tuesday after announcing it over email to divisional faculty Monday.

“I have already benefited greatly from their partnership and feel very lucky to have them both until the end of the year,” Hoekstra said at the meeting.

With Stubbs and Kelsey both departing, Hoekstra will have to appoint two divisional deans in the coming months — the second and third academic appointments that Hoekstra will make during her tenure.

Then-FAS Dean Michael D. Smith appointed Stubbs as an interim dean in June 2018 before Smith’s successor — now-University President Claudine Gay — appointed Stubbs permanently in November of that year. Stubbs is the second person ever to hold the role of Dean of Science.

A professor in Physics and Astronomy, Stubbs will continue to advise Hoekstra on issues regarding artificial intelligence, according to Hoekstra. Stubbs has made the incorporation of AI at Harvard a priority in recent months and will be teaching a course on generative AI in the spring.

Faculty in Stubbs’ division hailed his leadership, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Richard T. Lee ’79, a professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, wrote in an email that Stubbs “did a terrific job during the daunting Covid pandemic, and he did it through great communication and transparency.”

Mark C. Fishman, a professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, wrote that Stubbs “embodies the ideal academic-to-Dean phenotype.”

“He thinks in grand sweeps while being willing to dive into the daily grind to get programs going, as he did for the superb response to Covid,” Fishman wrote in a statement. “His will be very hard shoes to fill.”

—Staff writer Tilly R. Robinson contributed reporting.

—Staff writer Rahem D. Hamid can be reached at