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Currier House Faculty Deanship First to be Renamed Following Donation

Currier House is one of the three houses located in the Radcliffe Quadrangle. Its main entrance is located off of Linnaean Street.
Currier House is one of the three houses located in the Radcliffe Quadrangle. Its main entrance is located off of Linnaean Street. By Tyler M. Love
By Graham W. Bishai and Derek G. Xiao, Crimson Staff Writers

For the second time in just over a year, Currier House Faculty Deans will have a new title.

Following a gift from former Currier House resident X. D. Yang ’87 and his wife Nancy Yang, the position—currently held by Latanya Sweeney and Sylvia Barrett—will now be known as the X. D. and Nancy Yang Faculty Deanship of Currier House.

In 2016, each of Harvard’s 24 Faculty Deans, including both from Currier House, voted unanimously to change their title from “House master” to “Faculty Dean” amid concerns from students that the term “master” evoked slavery.

Following the announcement of the new title, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith said that the name change gave donors “a fantastic opportunity” to endow the position. At the time, he said that selling the naming rights for Faculty Deanships could provide much-needed funding for House renewal.

In an email to Faculty Deans announcing the donation on Feb. 22, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith wrote that the gift will go to “three essential areas of residential life at Harvard College: House Renewal; student programming in all Houses; and faculty dean leadership at Currier House.”

“The Yangs were inspired to make this gift by X. D.’s fond memory of his time as an undergraduate in Currier, which he has described as an indispensable part of his education,” Smith wrote.

Announcing the news to Currier residents over the House email list, Sweeney and Barrett asked students to “submit many more proposals for social activities through HoCo.”

The Yangs “want their gift to create memorable moments for you, the current students of Currier, and for the generations that follow you,” they wrote.

Harvard’s practice of granting naming rights in return for donations is relatively new.

In September 2014, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences deanship was renamed following a donation from Paul B. Edgerley and Sandra M. Edgerley ’84, marking the first time Harvard named a deanship. This came just two weeks after another first for Harvard: changing the name of one of its schools because of a donation. The University officially renamed the School of Public Health, retitling it the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health after real estate mogul Gerald L. Chan gave $350 million to the school.

Months later, in May 2015, the naming rights for the Harvard College deanship were sold to alumni Ami K. Danoff ’84 and William A. Danoff ’82 for an undisclosed sum.

In June 2015, a record $400 million donation from hedge fund tycoon John A. Paulson permanently endowed Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and renamed it the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

—Staff writer Graham W. Bishai can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GrahamBishai.

—Staff writer Derek G. Xiao can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @derekgxiao.

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