Three of Dartmouth’s house communities will be led by new house professors beginning in fall 2023, Dean of the College Scott C. Brown announced today.
Christopher MacEvitt, a professor of religion who studies the history of medieval Christian communities in the Mediterranean, will be the professor in residence for East Wheelock House.
Geographer Abigail Neely, an associate professor and political ecologist who studies health, healing, and the impacts of racial capitalism in South Africa, will join the School House community.
And historian Naaborko Sackeyfio-Lenoch, an associate professor who specializes in modern West African history, will take on the leadership of West House.
“Each of these exceptional scholar-teachers has shown a deep commitment to helping students build the strong bonds across difference that are the essential purpose of our residential model,” Brown says. “I’m delighted that they will be taking on the leadership of three of our house communities.”
The house community system launched in 2015 with the goal of giving all undergraduates the opportunity to belong to a residential community within the greater Dartmouth campus and to provide hubs for students, staff, and faculty to engage in social and intellectual activities together outside the classroom.
All undergraduates are assigned to one of six houses when they arrive as first-year students, and they maintain their affiliation to their house throughout their time at Dartmouth. Each house is overseen by a member of the faculty—the house professor—who lives in a single-family home on campus.
“At their best, universities represent a blending of residential and intellectual life,” says Neely, whose partner, Alexander, sons Liam and Theo, and golden retriever, Izzy, will join her in the South House residence. “The house system is the key site for this at Dartmouth, extending the classroom and offering a place for students, faculty, and staff to learn together. It is such a privilege to be a part of this—the university at its best.”
The importance of the residential experience to learning was evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, underlining the need “to meet each other in community with care,” Neely says. “I see the house communities as central to this, as spaces of radical care and compassion and as essential to building a better, stronger Dartmouth for the future.”
Sackeyfio-Lenoch, who has served as the faculty and intellectual adviser to the Shabazz Center for Intellectual Inquiry for the past three years, says the house communities “are an important part of the college’s commitment to enhance campus life for all. They have the potential to offer a residential experience that is rooted not only in intellectual development and socio-cultural activities beyond the classroom, but also in reflective practices that ground stillness, self-care of body and mind, and innovative community building to meet the rising anxieties and challenges facing our students and our world in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
With her husband, Tim, and children, Zora and Miles, Sackeyfio-Lenoch looks forward “to developing a strong and active presence at West House that is based on compassion, collaboration, and building trust within the community.”
“The house communities have a vital role to play on campus to help us build the community we need and want,” particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic, MacEvitt says. “The house communities are where we can bring together all of the diverse aspects of Dartmouth that make it such an extraordinary place—the close social bonds formed on our small campus, the unparalleled intellectual opportunities of working with the faculty, and the cultural opportunities that Dartmouth brings to campus.”
MacEvitt’s spouse, Pam, and their two children, Evander and Kylie, are excited to move to East Wheelock House with their dog, Coral. To the undergraduate residents of East Wheelock, MacEvitt says, “If you think your dorm room is small, ask me about growing up on a boat.”
The new house professors will take up their positions from inaugural house professors Sergi Elizalde (East Wheelock House), Ryan Hickox (West House), and Craig Sutton (School House), who have each served their respective houses since 2015.
Brown says, “On behalf of the whole Dartmouth community, I want to extend my gratitude to Craig, Ryan, and Sergi, whose efforts to build the house communities into a sustainable model for residential life has left an indelible legacy on this campus.”
Continuing as house professors are Melanie Taylor (North Park House), Janice McCabe (Allen House), and Sienna Craig (South House).