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Khurana Appoints Sweeney and Barrett Currier Faculty Deans

By Ignacio Sabate, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: May 10, 2016, at 11:55 p.m.

Latanya A. Sweeney, a professor of government and technology in residence, and Sylvia I. Barrett, a lawyer, will take over as Currier’s two new Faculty Deans beginning next academic year.

Their appointment marks the first time Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana has selected new Faculty Deans since he assumed his role in 2014. Sweeney and Barrett will replace Faculty Deans Richard W. Wrangham and Elizabeth A. Ross, who served as Currier Faculty Deans—formerly known as House masters—for eight years. Wrangham and Ross announced late last year that they would be stepping down from their roles.

Sweeney was a visiting professor of computer science at Harvard from 2008 to 2012 and before that taught at Carnegie Mellon University. She is the editor in chief of the journal Technology Science and she is the founder of the Data Privacy Lab at Harvard.

Sweeney began her undergraduate studies at MIT, but left school to manage a technology startup. In 1995, she graduated with a degree in computer science from the Harvard Extension School. In 2001, Sweeney became the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in computer science at MIT.

Barrett, Sweeney’s partner, is a private lawyer. She also began her undergraduate studies at MIT, but left after her junior year to work with Sweeney at the technology company. She graduated from the Extension School in 1995 and earned her J.D. from the Pittsburgh School of Law in 2002.

Khurana wrote in an email that he is excited about the appointments.

“Students and house leadership described them as inspiring and wonderful listeners,” he wrote.

According to Interim Dean of Student Life Thomas A. Dingman ’67, a search committee was convened in January to search for potential candidates. The search committee, headed by College administrators, sought advice from faculty members, current Faculty Deans, and students in Currier House during the decision process.

“Actually visiting Currier and meeting with the students on the search committee felt electric to us,” Sweeney wrote in an email. “The more we talked with the students, the more our excitement and enthusiasm mounted.”

Barrett and Sweeney were selected from a pool of around 12 candidates, Dingman said.

“Of course, we want Currier to be a house of explorations and opportunities,” Sweeney wrote. “We hope to provide students with ongoing ways to explore new technologies, new activities, new ways of thinking, and many other ways to grow.”

—Staff writer Ignacio Sabate can be reached at . Follow him on Twitter @ignacio_sabate.

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