Student Life Dean announces plans to retire after 7 years

Will aid with transition once appointment is made

7494 colombo
Courtesy of the Division of student life

Chris Colombo will retire from his position as Dean for Student Life after seven years at MIT and 40 years of service at various universities. He will continue to serve as dean until a successor is appointed.

Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88 announced Dean Colombo’s retirement in an email on Monday.

Dean Colombo leads MIT’s Division of Student Life, which oversees the offices of Residential Life, Student Development and Support, Religious Life, as well as the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation. He also serves as Housemaster of Next House with his wife, Bette.

“We are grateful to them both for making a difference in the lives of so many students,” President L. Rafael Reif said.

While serving as Dean of Student Life, Colombo led several major policy changes, including instituting a new dining plan, leading the initiative to place area directors in all dorms, implementing new security policies, and reopening Maseeh Hall.

Many of these policy changes were unpopular among pockets of the undergraduate community, many of whom felt that key decisions were made without their input, or that the new policies were inconsistent with their vision of MIT culture. Students on ec-discuss welcomed the news on Monday with an email thread whose subject included the phrase “everyone be happy.”

Search Committee

In her email to the MIT community, Chancellor Barnhart announced that she would form a committee to begin the search for Dean Colombo’s successor.

“The committee will have undergraduate representation,” she wrote in an email to The Tech. It “will actively seek student input on what’s working well and what needs improvement and change.”

“We are hopeful that his successor will be appointed sometime before the end of the 2015-2016 academic year,” Barnhart wrote. “Should a new dean be named before June 30, Dean Colombo will help me to ensure a smooth transition.”

Barnhart encouraged students and community members to send comments or suggestions to the MIT mailing list studentlife-search.

UA President Matthew J. Davis `16 circulated a form which community members could fill, detailing qualities they hope to see in a new Dean. The UA, in collaboration with Dormcon, Panhel, and the IFC will use the responses to draft a statement to present to Chancellor Barnhart in a meeting early next week.