Category: Uncategorized

GCP Kicks-Off Year Nine

The Graduate Commons team kicked-off the 2016-17 academic year by hosting WELCOME EVENTS across campus.  As we enter our 9th year of programming within Harvard Housing, GCP expands once more to include Harvard@Trilogy, One Western Avenue and Soldiers Field Park properties.
We are also thrilled to announce the arrival of our newest Faculty Directors:
  • Nancy Hill and Rendall Howell in the Riverside Area
  • Guhan Subramanian and Helen Clement in the Western Area

They join veteran Faculty Directors, Jim and Doreen Hogle in Peabody Terrace, and Chris and Nancy Winship in the Garden Area. All Faculty Directors host monthly events to bring our residents closer together and promote learning outside the classroom through our Meet the Scholar (MTS) program.

Graduate Commons has made a  commitment this year to expand the MTS program outside the traditional professoriate, bringing business and community leaders to our properties this fall.  Residents can check our calendars for more information.


A Year in Review

The Graduate Commons has completed its 8th year of Programming within Harvard Housing.  As we prepare to welcome new Faculty Directors and residents from the One Western Avenue and Soldiers Field Park properties, we want to reflect on what a memorable year we have had.  Take a look.

Thanks of joining our GCP community!  Congratulations to the Class of 2016!


Faculty Director Celebrations

After eight years of service and mentorship, the founding Faculty Directors of Harvard University Housing’s Graduate Commons program have transitioned out of their leadership roles.

Professors Davíd Carrasco and María Luisa Parra (10 Akron Street), along with Professor Jennifer Lerner and Dr. Brian Gill (5 Cowperthwaite Street), have been instrumental in the development and growth of Graduate Commons from a two-building pilot program introduced in 2008 to its current reach across 3,000 Harvard University Housing units. Having interacted with countless graduate students and their families over the years, the Faculty Directors depart with many friendships and fond memories of their time with GCP. Celebrations to honor the four took place at the beginning of May.

Faculty Directors Professor Jim and Doreen Hogle (Peabody Terrace) and Professor Chris and Nancy Winship (29 Garden Street) have been joined by Professor Guhan Subramanian and his wife, Helen Clement (10 Akron Street) and Professor Nancy Hill and her husband, Rendall Howell (5 Cowperthwaite Street). Harvard University Housing Director Steve Nason, who assisted in the selection of the new Faculty Directors, is excited to welcome such dynamic individuals to the community.

The arrival of the new Faculty Directors coincides with the expansion of the Graduate Commons Program to the entire Harvard University Housing portfolio. New to the program is Harvard @ Trilogy, located near the Harvard Longwood Campus, as well as Soldiers Field Park and One Western Avenue, located on the Harvard Business School Campus.

“The Graduate Commons Program is appreciative for the role Drs. Lerner, Gill, Carrasco and Parra have played over the past eight years. They have made a lasting impact on the residents here and I am grateful for their guidance and leadership. I am also very excited to see how the community grows under our new Faculty influence” said Lisa Valela, the Associate Director of the Graduate Commons Program.


All FD

Professors Carrasco and Parra (L) and Drs. Lerner and Gill (R)

A Big Day

When I was 14 years old, my family travelled to Boston for summer vacation.  I was young, impressionable, and in love with the idea of Harvard.  I even bought one of those t-shirts that say “Hah-vard” and wore it proudly my freshmen year of High School.  On that trip, I saw a penny on the sidewalk of Mass Ave, and as the saying goes, “pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck.”  I still have that penny, marked like a 14-year old would do with red nail polish, and stuck quietly into a little plastic jar at the bottom of a drawer.

On Thursday, February 18th, I was reminded of that penny as I spoke at Memorial Church’s Morning Prayer service, and reflected on my family, my childhood, and what it means to work for the Graduate Commons Program.  A big day for 14-year old me (who is still in here somewhere),  indeed!

With gratitude,



Staying Sane

Welcome back, all!  It seems like yesterday we were saying good-bye for Winter Break and here we are trying to keep our New Year’s’ resolutions.

As classes get underway, GCP wants to make sure you keep your health and happiness a priority this semester by introducing a “Whole Person” series.  The Program Managers have developed a number of events, to run the entirety of February, to benefit your sanity and well-being.

Here at GCP, we know that Spring semester is short, very short; and without a plan in place, you can fall victim to illness, depression and well, just an overwhelming feeling of panic. “What will I do after graduation? Where will I leave next year?  How will I ever finish my work?”  Don’t get bogged down in the minutiae, but rather make the time to work on your mind, body, and spirit!  The answers will follow.

Events are open to all GCP properties.  Hope to see you there!

GCP Whole Person Wellness Series_ Mind Body Spirit




Elusive.  Slippery.  The Kaiser Soze of Months, really.  September has come and gone in the blink of a Supermoon Lunar Eclipse, ushering in the serious/playful balance that October offers each year.   We settle into routines and begin to cook heartier meals, but somehow the warmth and colors remind us of our childhood, kicking leaves on the way to school.

September was a busy month for us here at Graduate Commons.  We oversaw close to 30 events across all GCP areas this month, including Welcome Events by our Faculty Directors, a Red Sox Outing for 60 and an Apple Picking adventure for 150. The academic side of the house hosted Professors William Julius Wilson, Mary Brinton and Richard Weissbourd, who shared insights into race, marriage, love, sex and more, in our Meet the Scholar series.  While our family programming expanding to include a HSSPA co-sponsored playgroup at 29 Garden and a tremendous opening Storytime Hour at Peabody Terrace.

Administratively, we are tasked with our next Graduate Commons expansion, officially taking place in August 2016, as we welcome HU Housing’s Boston properties into the family.  Trilogy, One Western Ave and Soldiers Field Park sample the fun this year through a number of preview events designed to give the residents a small taste of what we are all about.  Our first preview event is set for Sunday, October 18th at One Western Ave and celebrates October in Harvard Square by showcasing the Head of the Charles Regatta.

Here at Graduate Commons, we believe fostering these special Harvard traditions anchors your experience in a specific time and place, one filled with great diversity, intellect and curiosity.  Oh, to have lived, worked and learned in such a place with these Usual Suspects! And just like Kaiser Soze, (SNAP), it’s gone….


The 5 seasons

For many people there are 4 distinct seasons, but for me there has always been a shorter and more invigorating 5th season that takes place in late August through early September:  The Beginning of the School Year.  There are subtle clues that summer is coming to an end around here: shopping malls are packed with families frantically looking for shoes to fit rapidly growing feet, the construction scaffolding begins to come down in Harvard Square, and most notably (and welcome) to me, the afternoon light begins to change in my office. This is without a doubt my favorite time of year.

It’s the time of year when you can wear sandals AND a sweater; and the crisp evening air seems to make your brain focus better.  New students and residents arrive all shiny like pennies, excited to begin their Harvard careers in such a storied place. Books and politics get discussed at Friday Happy Hours, as do historical perspectives on war and the latest tech discoveries. Harvard allows you to ask any question, and perhaps more importantly, discuss any possible answer.   I am really proud to be a part of this new school year transition for students.  It signifies hard work paying off for them and the beginning of something new and magical in their lives. That something just can’t be replicated in any old career.

I am beginning my 11th year working in student affairs, and this year I am blessed with a tremendous staff who work hard, have great attitudes, and are just plain good people.  Our summer was spent planning (a lot) and relaxing (a little) in preparation of the Graduate Commons launching its 8th year of programming.  We’ve secured speakers from across the university for our MEET THE SCHOLAR lecture series and worked with our Faculty Director team to create relaxing events for you each month in their homes.  Our family programmers have already been hard at work meeting new families in all areas and hosting events like BEAT THE HEAT and INTERNATIONAL POT LUCKS to help you meet your neighbors.

As new adventures get underway, we hope the Beginning of the School Year season includes your Grad Commons family!  We look forward to meeting you and cheering you on for the next 10 months.  Bring on 2015-16!

Best wishes for a successful year,

Lisa and the Graduate Commons team

Fall in Harvard