Transition Announcement

A message from Dean Cherry A. Murray

October 28, 2014

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to tell you of my decision to step down as Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the end of 2014. It has been an extraordinary privilege to serve in this role for five exhilarating years. During that time, together, we have accomplished a great deal, moving SEAS from “start-up” to a vibrant and growing school, vital to Harvard’s future and full of promise and purpose. I am confident that SEAS is on a very solid trajectory for continued growth and excellence and I look forward to being actively engaged as a regular faculty member.

Thanks to the work we have done together, SEAS has made incredible progress toward becoming a new kind of engineering school, one that is embedded in the liberal arts and not constrained by traditional disciplinary boundaries. We set a strategic direction that emphasized first and foremost teaching and learning. The success of our dual mission—to provide an unparalleled education to concentrators and graduate students and technological literacy to all Harvard College students— is reflected in the remarkable interest in our courses. That educational mission supports, and is supported by, the amazing work taking place in the labs of our faculty—research that is changing the world for the better. In other words, SEAS has a lot of momentum and a bright future.

What motivated my decision? After my father’s death last year, I came to the realization that I have about ten more years to my active career. I began to assess how I wish to spend that time and concluded that I want to be less involved in day-to-day administration and more focused on accomplishing a few big things for which I have a real passion. The first thing I plan to do is to take a breath and figure out exactly what my next chapter will be—definitely some teaching, writing and research, and maybe something completely new as well.

Serving as Dean of SEAS has been a singular honor. My successor—first an interim Dean to be appointed by FAS Dean Mike Smith, and later a permanent Dean identified in a formal search—will lead a school that has a strong base on which to build. We have launched and already made significant progress in an ambitious campaign. SEAS enjoys the enthusiastic support of the Harvard administration, alumni, and donors. In a few years we will expand into a state-of-the-art SEAS campus in Allston that will relieve space constraints on our teaching and research and enable exciting new initiatives. We have recently hired a cadre of stellar new professors, with searches under way to further revitalize and expand our already superb faculty.

The most rewarding part of my experience as Dean has been the chance to collaborate with the amazing students, passionate faculty, dedicated staff, and talented alumni who do so much make Harvard and SEAS an exceptional place. I have enjoyed working with all of you, and I am especially grateful to President Drew Faust, FAS Dean Mike Smith, Provost Alan Garber and so many other valued colleagues at Harvard for their support and friendship. I look forward to the great advances we will continue to make together. Thank you all.

With warm regards,


Cherry A. Murray
Dean, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
John A. and Elizabeth S. Armstrong Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Professor of Physics