Colgate Chooses Harvard’s Suzy Nelson as New Dean of the College

Suzy Nelson, Harvard’s Dean of Student Life, will leave Harvard in June to become Dean of the Col-lege here at Colgate. She spent the past seven years at Harvard and the previous seven at Cornell as the As-sociate Dean of Students, advising 67 Greek-letter organizations.

“Nelson brings an important set of skills and experiences to Colgate. She will play a vital role in fostering a rich set of living experiences, pro-moting discussions across differenc-es, developing service opportunities, and helping to ensure that Colgate students live vibrant and healthy lives. I have complete confidence that she will partner with faculty and other campus leaders to further dis-tinguish Colgate while serving our accomplished and diverse student body,” President Herbst wrote in an e-mail to campus.

At Harvard, Nelson is currently part of a committee struggling to address a new alcohol policy that has resulted in an increase in hos-pitalizations for alcohol poisoning.

“Back in 2007,” Harvard senior Naveen Srivatsa said, “the college insti-tuted an amnesty policy which would allow students to bring intoxicated students to university health services and not face disciplinary action.

“From 2005 to 2008 there wasn’t really an increase, but then from 2008 on there have been increases. In the fall of 2010, for example, they saw as many alcohol-related sicknesses as they did for the entire 2009-2010 academic year,” Srivatsa said. “And then from 2008 until now there have been increases in Har-vard police having to respond to alcohol-related medical calls. So in the 2008-2009 school year there were 106 incidents. In 2009-2010 there were 123 and then last school year there were 183 students who called the Harvard University Po-lice Department. If you were to compare 2010-2011 to 2009-2010 there’s a 49% increase in alcohol-related calls,” Srivatsa said. “We’re expecting by the end of the year for a policy to be announced regarding alcohol,” Srivatsa said. “Suzy has al-ways talked about creating a culture of safe drinking.”

Nelson also amplified stu-dent’s voices with a program called StarRez.

“StarRez is a system by which the various houses can standardize information sharing. [It’s] meant to make house administration and student life administration more streamlined,” Nelson said. The website allows students to deal with housing issues without hav-ing to contact a high-level dean which, according to Srivatsa, is almost impossible because of their cluttered schedules.

Nelson, who advised Greek-letter organizations at Syracuse and Cornell, might draw more on those experiences than those at Harvard.

Nelson supports Greek-letter or-ganizations and believes in their ca-pacity to strengthen brotherly and sisterly bonds between members.

She is, at the same time, a strong critic of hazing. At Cornell, Nelson battled hazing by shorten-ing the pledging period and em-phasizing that pledging should be more like orientation. She may face similar issues here at Colgate.

Contact Thomas Hedges at [email protected].