Harvard & Princeton Do Away With Titling Head Professors As “Master”

December 5, 2015  |  

After decades of using the title “master” to refer to leaders of residential colleges, some Ivy League universities are doing away with it, as many have complaints regarding its connection to slavery. With the racial climate and numerous tragic incidents occurring on campuses nationwide, the push for this change has been strong.

The title, whose roots can be traced back to universities of medieval Europe, are given to university faculty members who oversee social and academic programs and serve as advisers.

According to the New York Daily News, both Harvard and Princeton have eliminated the title, and Yale is in talks of whether or not they should do the same.

Princeton, whose administrators announced last month that the masters at its six colleges decided to drop title , described it as “anachronistic and historically vexed.”

“We believe that calling them ‘head of college’ better captures the spirit of their work and their contributions to campus residential life,” Dean Jill Dolan said.

Harvard, who also is breaking away from the title, announced just last week it’s plans for changing “house master” to one that has yet to be determined.
“The desire to change this title has taken place over time and has been a thoughtful one, rooted in a broad effort to ensure that the college’s rhetoric, expectations, and practices around our historically unique roles reflects and serves the 21st century needs of residential student life,” Harvard Dean Rakesh Khurana wrote to students.“The house masters feel confident that a change in title at this point in time makes sense on very many levels.”
Yale’s Stephen Davis, a head professor of Pierson College, also agrees on rejecting the title. Back in August, he wrote to the college: “I think there should be no context in our society or in our university in which an African-American student, professor or staff member — or any person, for that matter — should be asked to call anyone ‘master,”’ according to Yale Daily News.
Yale President Peter Salovey has  yet ot make a decision on the future of the term “master” at their prestigious university, but is expecting to share the decision on the pressing matter before the summer.
In the meantime, Yale has made several changes that may promote their pending decision including building a new center devoted to race and ethnicity and new faculty positions dedicated to the histories, lives and cultures of under-represented communities.

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