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Three undergraduate communities to welcome new housemasters this fall

Committees select faculty for posts in Baker, McCormick, MacGregor.
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New MIT housemasters: (l-r) John Fernández, Raul Radovitzky, Larry Sass
New MIT housemasters: (l-r) John Fernández, Raul Radovitzky, Larry Sass

Three separate search committees helped identify faculty members to become the next housemasters for Baker House, MacGregor House, and McCormick Hall.

Chris Colombo, dean for student life and housemaster of Next House, thanked all of the candidates and praised the selection committees — made up of students, faculty and staff — for their efforts. “We had a number of positions to fill, and were fortunate to have a pool of terrific candidates who are passionate about working with students,” he said. “And the search committees did a wonderful job of selecting exceptional faculty from that pool to assume these important positions.”

Housemasters at MIT influence all areas of student development, acting as advisors and mentors to their community members, teaming with their house’s student government and Residential Life staff to foster community. Undergraduate housemasters also work closely with graduate resident tutors to support students, and are further assisted by an area director, who helps develop social and educational programming for the community.

John Fernández ’85, Baker House

Matching two architects with an architecturally significant building seems like a natural fit. But John Fernández, professor in the Department of Architecture, also expresses a deep desire to give back to a community that he has been part of since the early 1980s. “I have felt the pull, and great satisfaction, of contributing to the MIT community ever since I joined the faculty in 1999,” he wrote to the Baker search committee. “The benefits I have gained from being both an alumnus and now full professor can never be fully repaid, though I have set my sights on doing so.”

Fernández is also director of the Building Technology Program and co-director of the International Design Center. His wife, Malvina Lampietti, is a principal of Lampietti Fernández Architects, which she co-founded with Fernández in 1997, a practice centering on low-energy and sustainable residential work in New England and New York. Fernández and Lampietti have two children; their son Lorenzo, a rising senior at Concord Academy, will join them at Baker House. Daughter Vita is a rising junior at Johns Hopkins University and will visit the family at Baker for a few weeks at the end of the fall semester after spending a term in New Zealand.

Though this is Fernández’s deepest foray into student life outside the classroom, he has been active on numerous student-related committees, special task forces, and Institute initiatives during his years at MIT. “I have been heartened by the continuing attention paid to the quality and depth of life of our students and the tireless cultivation of a positive and supportive commons for living, working and learning at the institute,” he wrote. “Now, as a senior member of the faculty I feel it is time to contribute and engage in these efforts in a deeper way.”

Raul Radovitzky, McCormick Hall

Radovitzky’s whole life has been dedicated to the academic world with an equal love for research and teaching. But among all of his academic passions, the interaction with the student community is definitely his favorite. He arrived at MIT in 2001 and is now a professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, associate director of the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology, and winner of a 2014 Student Champion Award for his excellence as a freshman advisor.

The Institute is already a family affair for the Radovitzkys. Raul’s wife Flavia Cardarelli also works at MIT, and since 2006 has been assisting Professor Dava Newman (former housemaster in Baker House) in the MIT-Portugal Program. In that role, Cardarelli works directly with students who take part in the international exchange.

Their sons Ben and Felipe are also familiar with MIT, having attended MIT summer camp on campus for many years. They eventually became counselors-in-training and stood out for their excellent sailing skills. In fact, sailing is an activity the entire Radovitzky family enjoys.

Food is another passion for the family: Cardarelli has an international flair for cooking, drawing on Italian, Spanish, Jewish, French, and Argentine culinary traditions for inspiration.

They especially look forward to deepening their interactions with MIT students. Radovitzky is known for taking meals with small groups of students, or cooking an authentic Argentine barbecue — called an “asado” — for students in his classes at the end of the spring term. The family has also hosted Thanksgiving dinner for international students, and social events for Radovitzky’s freshman advisees.

Larry Sass SM ’94 PhD ’00, MacGregor House

For more than two decades Larry Sass, associate professor in the Department of Architecture, has been involved in student life activities outside the classroom, starting when he was a graduate student and served as house tutor to New House and Chocolate City from 1993 to 2000. Sass is also a freshman advisor, and has served on several student-related committees, including the Committee on Student Life and the Committee on the Undergraduate Program.

In his letter to the search committee, Sass shared his deep commitment to working with students, and pointed out that he and his wife Terry have wanted to be housemasters since they left New House in 2000. “Whether teaching my undergraduate courses or working with UROPs in my research group (Design Fabrication Group) the most personally fulfilling aspect of my experiences at MIT has been my relationships with students and other members of the MIT community.”

The Sasses have three children — Max, June, and Omar — two of whom attended events at Chocolate City when they were younger. “We have fond memories of our life there as a family with young children, integrated into the MIT community of students and faculty in residence,” Sass wrote. His wife holds a PhD from Boston College in counseling psychology, and currently works as a clinician with families, couples, and individuals at the Brookline Community Mental Health Center.

“My wife and I have fond memories of our years as house tutors in New House, Chocolate City,” he wrote to the committee. “Now that our own children are older, we would welcome the opportunity to come full circle and once again be a part of MIT residential life.”

The new housemasters will move into their respective communities this summer and be in residence to welcome incoming students for Orientation in August.

The departing housemasters spent many years in their communities and supported countless MIT students during that time. (Read more about them here.) “We are sad to see these wonderful colleagues move,” Colombo added. “We are delighted, however, to have such outstanding faculty as John, Raul, and Larry and their families commit to our students by living with them, working with them, and directly supporting them in the residence halls.”

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