Search for the New Leader for the Division of Student Life

October 08, 2015

To members of the MIT Community:

In July, I wrote to announce that Costantino (Chris) Colombo will retire from his post as MIT's dean for student life after seven years of service.

To lead a comprehensive and effective search for Chris's replacement, I have appointed a search committee, chaired by Krishna Rajagopal, Professor of Physics, MacVicar Faculty Fellow, and the Chair of the Faculty. The full membership is listed at the end of this letter. I am very pleased to have an outstanding group of faculty, students, and staff participating in this effort and I thank them for their service.

The committee's primary task will be to provide me with a short list of outstanding candidates accompanied by an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses within the context of the particular challenges and opportunities the new leader will face. I have encouraged the committee to seek advice and gather input from the community broadly. If you have insights about the role or suggestions that will help identify the best candidates, I hope you will let the committee know by email at The committee will treat any guidance received as confidential.

You should be aware that we have renamed the position of Dean for Student Life to Vice President for Student Life (VPSL). This change will better align with current practices at our peer institutions and help attract candidates with the deepest expertise and experience. The new VPSL will continue to report directly to me.

As I noted in July, Chris will continue in his current role until a successor is appointed, and will then serve as an advisor to me until June 30, 2016. I look forward to identifying Chris's successor during the spring term so that we can ensure a seamless transition before the start of the next academic year.

I encourage members of our community to lend their voices to this important process and to support the hard work of the search committee. You can help advance the committee's efforts and ensure the candidate recommendations they submit to me are as strong as possible. I look forward to receiving the committee's final list in the coming months.

Cynthia Barnhart

Members of the Committee

  • Krishna Rajagopal, Professor of Physics & MacVicar Faculty Fellow (Chair)
  • Kathleen Alexander G, Materials Science and Engineering; Graduate Resident Tutor
  • Steve Baker '84; Chair, Association of Independent Living Groups
  • Matthew Davis '16, Aeronautics and Astronautics; President, Undergraduate Association
  • John DiFava, Director, Campus Services and Chief of Police
  • Mark DiVincenzo, Vice President and General Counsel
  • Suzanne Flynn, Professor of Linguistics & Second Language Acquisition; Housemaster
  • Dennis Freeman '86; Dean of Undergraduate Education & Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Lorraine Goffe-Rush, Vice President for Human Resources
  • Caitlin Heber '16, Mathematics; Executive Vice-President, Dormitory Council
  • Howard Heller, Associate Medical Director, MIT Medical
  • Michael McClellan G, Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences; President, Graduate Student Council
  • David Singer, Associate Professor, Political Science & Housemaster
  • Obasi Onuoha '17, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science; Vice President, Interfraternity Council
  • Christine Ortiz, Dean for Graduate Education & Professor, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Julie Soriero, DAPER Department Head/Associate Professor
  • Ian Waitz, Dean, School of Engineering
  • JoAnne Yates, Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management
  • Jag Patel '97; Director, Special Projects, Office of the Chancellor (Staff to the Committee)