Thomas J. and Kate Delaney, the East Campus (EC) Housemasters, are stepping down from their roles at the end of this semester. Kate Delaney, a lecturer in the Department of Literature, and Tom, a lecturer in Comparative Media Studies / Writing, have been Housemasters for EC since 2006. The Delaneys will be retiring at the end of this semester.
“It was not an easy decision to make because we have enjoyed our time at MIT, in the classroom as well as at EC, but now seems a good time to begin a new experience,” wrote the Delaneys in an e-mail to The Tech. The Delaneys are planning on moving to Hawaii this summer.
The Delaneys were first inspired to become Housemasters after they read about the experiences of the former Housemasters of East Campus, Julian K. Wheatley and Marjorie Nolan-Wheatley, in an article in The Tech. “What stuck in our minds from that Tech article was the Wheatleys’ remark that ‘whoever gets to be Housemaster at East Campus is going to be very lucky.’ They were right,” recalled the Delaneys. Mr. Wheatley, a senior lecturer in Chinese at the time of the publication of the article, had plans to travel abroad with his wife after leaving EC in order study Chinese, Burmese, and other regional Southeast Asian languages.
Kate, who had been a Hall Fellow of an entry of MacGregor prior to becoming a Housemaster, was well-acquainted with MIT residential life. But being the Housemasters of East Campus brought many new experiences. “Still, until you are actually living in a situation, it is difficult to know what it will be like. Fortunately, it turned out to be wonderful.”
Tom and Kate agreed that their favorite part of being Housemasters was interacting with students. “I think we like everything about housemastering that has to do with the students. It is a privilege to share a part of their lives. We are in a position to empower students, to be helpful at times. We support students and advocate for them, individually and as a group,” stated the Delaneys.
To the next EC Housemasters, the Delaneys’ advice is to keep an open mind and embrace the autonomy of the student government. “Advice is cheap, and there are many ways in which one can be a successful Housemaster. But one good piece of advice to our successors would be: listen to the students,” claimed the Delaneys. “East Campus attempts to be a self-governing community allowing freedom and autonomy consistent with law and safety. We have been blessed with strong student leaders, and the relationship has been one of mutual trust.”
In their time as Housemasters, there were a few unfortunate experiences. According to the Delaneys, “Certainly the saddest experience we’ve had as Housemasters is the loss of community members. That leaves an irreparable hole.”
For the Delaneys, just being members of the residential community was the most fulfilling part of being Housemasters. “Really, just seeing people on a daily basis, chatting with them, sharing their joys and victories as well as their disappointments, being part of the community — that is the most rewarding aspect of housemastering.”