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Jensen Leaves Harvard After 4-Month Tenure as FAS Communications Chief

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Faculty of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean for Communications Holly J. Jensen has departed from Harvard after less than four months in the role.

Jensen’s surprise resignation marks a second consecutive year the FAS will enter the summer in search of a new chief communications officer.

Anna Cowenhoven, Jensen’s predecessor, left her role at Harvard last summer to lead communications at the University of Pennsylvania. Rachael Dane, who was the FAS’ director of media relations, departed around the same time.

FAS Dean Hopi E. Hoekstra announced Jensen’s departure in an email obtained by The Crimson, saying that Jensen “provided impactful communications leadership during a particularly challenging spring semester.”

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In the email, which was addressed to senior FAS leadership, Hoekstra wrote that she was announcing the personnel update with “mixed emotions” and that Jensen had decided to leave for “personal reasons.”

Hoekstra added that her chief of staff, Nina R. Collins, would “serve as a resource to the FAS communications team” in the interim.

Jensen did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this article.

Jensen’s departure comes as Harvard Public Affairs and Communications, also known as HPAC, caps off its toughest year in recent memory. The University’s in-house communications team has worked around the clock since the fall in an attempt to guide Harvard out of a PR crisis that began with former University President Claudine Gay’s initial statement about Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

The seemingly unending public attention did not fade away during the spring semester, which was bookended by Gay’s resignation and the pro-Palestine student encampment in Harvard Yard.

HPAC engaged several outside PR firms and consultants to manage the events of last year, including public relations giant Edelman, crisis communications firm Risa Heller, and media strategy company A.H. Levy & Co.

The last few weeks have been especially taxing for the FAS’ public relations team.

Last week, after the Harvard College Administrative Board blocked 13 seniors from graduating over their involvement in the encampment, the FAS voted to sidestep the sanctions and add the seniors back to the list of degrees to confer — a move that put the FAS at odds with the Harvard Corporation, which ultimately sided with the Ad Board.

The Corporation’s decision — and the ensuing student walkout at Harvard’s Commencement ceremony — made national headlines.

In her email to senior FAS administrators, FAS Dean Hopi E. Hoekstra wrote that her office was “currently developing an interim coverage plan” and would share more details over the next week. She also did not announce a timeline for appointing Jensen’s successor.

—Staff writer Tilly R. Robinson can be reached at tilly.robinson@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @tillyrobin.

—Staff writer Neil H. Shah can be reached at neil.shah@thecrimson.com. Follow him on X @neilhshah15.

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