West Quad South (WQS) cluster will welcome Kate Dolan, Assistant Dean of Advising and Instructor in Athletics, and Pine Knoll (PKN) Cluster will welcome Raj Mundra, Instructor in Biology, as cluster deans next fall.
Dolan will replace Trish Russell, Sustainability Coordinator and incoming Dean of Studies, who has served as Interim Dean of WQS since the departure of Cindy Efinger, former Dean of WQS, at the end of the 2011-2012 school year. Mundra will succeed Aya Murata, Advisor to Asian and Asian American Students, who will complete her extended eight-year term as Dean of PKN at the end of this school year.
Mundra and Dolan will each serve a six-year tenure from 2013 to 2019.
“Being a Cluster Dean has always been something in the back of my mind… I know that I admire and look up to a lot of the cluster deans that I have had the privilege to work with. Also in my current job, I work with lots of adults, and I would like to work more with the kids. This is a perfect opportunity to do so,” said Dolan.
Dolan came to Andover in 1990 and has served as a House Counselor for 24 years in Thompson House. Dolan will remain in Thompson House and will continue to coach Varsity Field Hockey, JV Girls Hockey and Girls Varsity Lacrosse. She will not continue her role as Assistant Dean of Advising during her tenure as Cluster Dean.
“As a Cluster Dean, I will definitely be out and about more. I know that Cluster Deans make an effort to go to events and be a presence on campus, so I will be a much more public person,” said Dolan.
“To me, this position means that people have faith, trust and confidence in my ability to do the job and to do it well. The Cluster Dean is more than just the person who hosts munches and disciplines [students]. I want to be an additional resource for kids, and somebody who is able to help them,” said Dolan.
Mundra said, “The residential program is a big part of who we are and who we want to become as a community and I am just very excited to be a part of that team.”
“I am looking forward to getting to know a large group of kids, their stories, their contexts and also building on the awesome cluster that Pine Knoll already is. I think that Ms. Murata has done an amazing job, as well as the House Counselors. I am walking into an ideal situation,” he continued.
Mundra will leave his position as House Counselor in Rockwell House, and move into 1924 House with his wife and two sons. Mundra will continue to teach Biology and direct the Niswarth summer program, a service-learning trip to India.
“I think my perspectives on how things work here at the Academy will broaden. I hope my time and energy to think about community, support and care will grow and deepen,” said Mundra.
“Over the next six years, I hope that Ms. Dolan and Mr. Mundra will achieve the balance between being very supportive of students, and being somebody who can really generate spirit among the students,” said Rebecca Sykes, Associate Head of School.
Dolan said that the role of cluster dean has changed during her time at Andover.
“I would say one of the bigger changes I have seen at Andover over my years here is how the cluster deans have gone from being strict disciplinarians to supportive figures who say, ‘How can we do this together?’ and who take the team approach. So in a lot of ways I would like to view the job a little bit like coaching—everyone in the Cluster and I, we will all try to work together to achieve the same goal,” said Dolan.
Murata said, “I am going to miss having that opportunity [to bond with a community] in lots of different ways, whether it is popping by a dorm, or in Cluster Council, or at all the social events that the Knoll hosts or even meeting kids through the discipline system, to get to know lots of different kids.”
The application process for the Cluster Dean position began with an open invitation to faculty to submit a letter of interest and résumé. The four initial candidates were interviewed by administrators and faculty with whom they would work closely as Cluster Deans. The Dean of Faculty’s Office then asked for feedback from the community, including students, about the candidates. Sykes said that the final decision was a group decision that included input from herself, Head of School John Palfrey Temba Maqubela, Dean of Faculty, and Paul Murphy, Dean of Students.
“We sent e-mails out to members of the WQS and PKN clusters, to ask what [those students and faculty] would be looking for in a new cluster dean. They responded saying that they wanted a person who has energy, spirit and the ability to relate to students. We really needed people who were organized as well,” said Sykes.