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Next House Housemaster Search Delayed

The search for a new Next House housemaster will continue into the fall because this spring’s search yielded only one candidate, Professor Robert C. Berwick PhD ’82. Berwick will continue to be a candidate in the fall.

Residential Life Associate Marc A. Lo will serve as “interim house director” in the fall, said Peter W. Fung ’09, Next House’s vice president and secretary. The dormitory’s current housemasters, Muriel Medard ’89 and John Simmons ’90, will move off-campus with their family but will officially still serve as housemasters, in which capacity they will “remain only an email or phone call away,” Fung wrote in an e-mail to the dormitory’s residents.

Medard and Simmons announced their departure in late February, saying that Next House could no longer meet their family’s expanding space needs. A search committee was formed shortly thereafter. Little time was left to find a replacement since Medard and Simmons planned to leave at the end of this academic year. Some of the potential candidates the committee asked to apply declined because of the short notice, Fung said.

Berwick, the only applicant, met Next House residents at a study break and interviewed with graduate resident tutors and, separately, with student residents, Fung said.

“The search committee decided that it would be best for Next House to explore other candidates and to give other faculty members an opportunity to assess their candidacy and apply,” Fung wrote in his e-mail to residents. Berwick “will continue to be a candidate when the search resumes in September,” Fung wrote.

A good housemaster should provide a good fit for the dormitory’s culture and should be able to communicate effectively with residents in the event of a major crisis, Fung said in an interview.

Medard and Simmons drew some criticism in October 2007, when Anna L. Tang allegedly stabbed her ex-boyfriend in his Next House room seven times, from residents who said they had learned more about the events from friends and the media than from their house managers. At the time, Medard said that she had told the residents only the facts she could verify, and that privacy concerns limited her communications. Medard told The Tech in February that she and Simmons focused mostly on ensuring the well-being of students who needed support: “Mostly, we just offered a haven.”

The search committee is comprised of Next House undergraduates, a GRT, house manager Julie T. Gagnon, Burton-Conner housemasters Merritt Roe Smith and Bronwyn M. Mellquist, and Lo, Next House’s RLA.

—Michael McGraw-Herdeg