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MacGregor, Burton Housmasters to Leave


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Professor Stephen J. Lippard PhD '65, the present MacGregor housemaster

By Jennifer Lane
Staff Reporter

MacGregor Housemasters Stephen J. Lippard PhD '65 and Burton-Conner Housemasters William L. Porter PhD '69 will step down from their positions at the end of the spring term.

Lippard will resign when he becomes head of the chemistry department on July 1. He and his wife Judith have been housemasters at MacGregor for four years.

Porter, a professor of architecture, and his wife Lynn have been at Burton for four years. They will resign to avoid paying large capital gains taxes on a home they sold in Concord.

Being a housemaster and heading a department require a lot of time and responsibilities, and "it would be unfair to both the students and the department if I tried to do both" Lippard said. "It would be pretty hard to be as conscientious as I would like to be at both positions," Lippard said. "It had to be one or the other."

"Department heads have to respond to unpredictable situations, much as a housemaster does," said Porter, who is a former head of the Department of Architecture. "You have to be ready to jump into a situation at any time."

"I had anticipated staying [on as housemaster] a bit longer, but it wasn't something I wanted to do forever," Lippard said. "You should only do a job when you feel your best work is still ahead of you."

Lippard's time as MacGregor housemaster has been a positive experience, said Anand R. Radhakrishnan '96, MacGregor House president. "Lippard was always on our side," on issues such as crowding and the closing of the dining hall, Radhakrishnan said. "He always tried to help us out."

"There are various ways that the housemaster can be the students' advocate under difficult circumstances," Lippard said.

Lippard said he was instrumental in bringing in new programs and visitors to the dormitory, and he worked to break the architectural barrier of the different MacGregor entries. "The single most successful event we got going was entry night," which is an annual MacGregor variety show, Lippard said. "The students show a tremendous amount of spirit, and I hope it will go on for a long time."

"My biggest single failure was probably in not doing more to keep the dining hall. Social activity in and between entries occurred at dinner, and that's gone now, and it's sad," Lippard said.

Taxes push Porters to leave

After selling their Concord home, the Porters bought a house in Cambridge. Under tax laws, if a person sells a house and makes a profit, he has to pay taxes unless he has another permanent residence.

Porter hoped to establish the Cambridge house as his permanent residence while remaining housemaster at Burton, but "it was clear that the [Internal Revenue Service] would not see it that way," he said. "There's no way to get around the problem. We're furious at the tax laws for being written that way."

Porter said that he and his wife regret having to leave Burton but are optimistic about the future of the dormitory. "The house has made terrific strides, and we are pleased and proud about that," he said.

In a letter to Burton residents, the Porters wrote, "We think that the house is in good shape now: Your leadership is strong; you are showing all sorts of initiative on many fronts despite the killing schedule of academic work, and through it all there gleams a wonderful sense of humor."

The Office of Residence and Campus Activities will help find new housemasters for MacGregor and Burton, after getting input from students and graduate resident tutors, Porter said. Nominations are welcome from any of those groups, he said.

"The goals of the housemaster program are to enhance the lives of students in the dorm and to build a sense of community," Porter said. Tenured faculty members that are committed to working toward these goals will be considered in the search, he said.

MacGregor students will form a committee to gather student input on selecting a new housemaster and evaluating what characteristics of a housemaster are important to residents, Radhakrishnan said. This committee will consist of the MacGregor entry chairs and other interested individuals, he said.