New leadership

Harry R. Lewis appointed Interim Dean of SEAS

Harry R. Lewis is Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at Harvard SEAS. (Photo by Eliza Grinnell, SEAS Communications.)

Cambridge, Mass. – December 2, 2014 – Michael D. Smith, Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, today announced the appointment of Harry R. Lewis, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science, as Interim Dean of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), effective January 1, 2015.

“Professor Lewis is a distinguished scholar in computer science, a Harvard College Professor for teaching excellence, and a highly experienced administrator and leader in the Harvard community,” said Smith. “He brings to the deanship a thorough understanding of SEAS culture and academic life, exceptional insight into the undergraduate experience as a former Dean of Harvard College, and the intellectual and administrative agility needed to effectively guide SEAS during this interim period.”

During the past four decades, Lewis has actively shaped undergraduate education and student life. Currently Director of Undergraduate Studies in Computer Science, his past service includes participation on the Faculty Council, the Educational Policy Committee, the Committee on Undergraduate Education, the Committee on Graduate Education, the Administrative Board of Harvard College, the Committee on College Life, the Committee on House Life, the Committee on Advising and Counseling, the Committee on Athletic Sports, and the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid.

As Dean of Harvard College from 1995 to 2003, Lewis integrated faculty more fully into the House system, randomized students’ housing assignments to diversify House communities, strengthened student advising, and restructured the Dean’s Office to better support student life.

A graduate of Harvard College (A.B., 1968) and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (A.M., 1973; Ph.D., 1974), Lewis joined the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as Assistant Professor of Computer Science in 1974. Promoted to Associate Professor of Computer Science in 1978, he received tenure as Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science in 1981. He served as Harvard College Professor from 2003 to 2008.  

At SEAS, Lewis’ teaching and research have focused on theoretical aspects of computer science, more recently branching out into the social and legal ramifications of digital technology. In addition to authoring numerous articles and books on computer science, technology, and digital society, Lewis has written extensively on higher education.

“I am honored to serve as interim dean of SEAS, where I first set foot as a freshman just over 50 years ago,” said Lewis. “The future of engineering at Harvard has never looked brighter than it does today. I hope to follow the model set by the SEAS faculty and staff from whose brilliance, wisdom and kindness I have received such benefit over the decades.”

“Professor Lewis is widely recognized for his collaborative leadership style and deep knowledge of SEAS and Harvard,” added Smith. “I am confident that he will quickly and deftly take up the responsibilities of this role and will partner effectively with me in leading SEAS during this interim period.”

The search for a permanent dean of SEAS is currently underway, with a Search Advisory Committee comprised of faculty across SEAS appointed and in place.

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