Henry J. Humphreys is resigning from his position as Senior Associate Dean for Residential Life and Dining, effective Jan. 29.
“I felt like I’ve done everything I came here to do at the Institute, and it’s my time to step to the side,” Humphreys said in an interview with The Tech.
Moving forward, he wants to find a position that “better aligns with his expertise and interests in student life,” Chris Colombo wrote in an email to the Division of Student Life on Jan. 7.
“I am grateful to Henry for his years of service to MIT. From his work on implementing the area director and dorm security programs to working with our Boston-based FSILGs on assembly protocols, he has been a dedicated DSL team member and supporter of MIT students,” Colombo said.
Dean for Student Life Chris Colombo announced his own retirement over the summer, and with the new Vice President for Student Life replacing Dean Colombo in the coming year, Humphreys said he wanted to “let there be … that full changeover of staff.” The search committee for the new Vice President for Student Life is planning to present a short list of recommendations to the Chancellor near the start of the spring semester. The search for Humphreys’ successor has not yet begun.
The resignation “allows me to focus on searching for what it is I want to do next in education,” Humphreys said.
Humphreys joined the DSL in 2010; Colombo in 2008. Though both administrators are stepping down in succession, Colombo said that the resignations “had nothing to do with each other.”
Upgrades to dorm security, an expanded campus dining system, and the installment of RLADs in dorms are among the projects Humphreys has overseen during his time in the DSL. He also helped Boston-based FSILGs deal with assembly restrictions imposed by Boston over the past several years.
Recently, Humphreys has dealt with student life crises. New House has been under repair since August, when a pipe burst caused major flooding and dislocated over 100 students. Humphreys points to New House as an example of a bad situation which was managed through good communication with students.
“New House is probably the best example of how if you’re working with a community, that even through a bad situation, it’s okay,” Humphreys said.
The students displaced from New House were given the option of moving into the nearby Hyatt Regency hotel, and will be moving back to the renovated dorm on Jan. 23.
“When I was thinking about stepping away, there were certain things I wanted to make sure were complete, and one of them was the New House students being able to get to move back to their community,” Humphreys said. “I’ve been to New House — it looks beautiful, they’re starting to do the final cleaning, they’re bringing all the furniture that’s been cleaned and repaired. We’re bringing the students back into a nice situation.”
He said that, in this case, keeping students informed ahead of time about DSL’s plans made the situation more manageable. Colombo also noted the handling of the New House flood as one of Humphreys’s accomplishments.
Humphreys cited a “much-improved relationship” and “open communication” between administrators and student leaders as one of the major developments during his time with the DSL.
“MIT students have taught me how to prepare better to have discussions with students, how to be more respectful in conversation,” Humphreys said. “It’s been a really good professional experience for me to be here. I’ve really enjoyed it.”
“Plus I’ve seen crazy things here I would probably never see at any other school,” he added. Like “EC baking thousands of cookies and eating them all in one sitting...or a roller coaster that’s probably better than anything I’m going to see at an amusement park.”
The DSL has made organizational changes to accommodate Humphreys’s resignation.
“Dennis Collins, director of residential life for capital renewal, and Naomi Carton, associate dean for Residential Life and Dining, will report to Peter Cummings, executive director for administration. Constance Hemenway, manager for RLD communications and special projects, will report to Matthew Bauer, DSL communications director. Brad Badgley, associate dean and director of the FSILG Office will report to me,” Colombo said in the email to DSL.
Humphreys does not yet know what he will do after MIT - only that it will still be in education, which has always been his interest.
“I’m one of the rare people who went to college knowing what I wanted to do,” he said. “I wanted to be a teacher.”
“I’m definitely staying in education. Probably higher education. I love working with students, so I can’t see myself doing anything else. Some people have talked about, you know, should I look at secondary education, being a headmaster,” Humphreys said.
“The best part of my job is working with students so I’m not going to give that up yet. Even if I win the Powerball tomorrow I’m not going to give that up.”