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College Eliminates Experiential Learning Center, Director to Leave Harvard

University Hall in Harvard Yard.
University Hall in Harvard Yard. By Kathryn S. Kuhar
By Sanjana L. Narayanan, Crimson Staff Writer

The Dean of Students Office will not be moving forward with the Experiential Learning Center, the center’s director Paul R. “Coz” Teplitz ’03-’09 announced in an email to leaders of the First-Year Outdoor Program Thursday.

Teplitz, who served as director of FOP before taking on the role of Director of Outdoor and Experiential Education in 2017, also wrote that he will be leaving Harvard with the Center’s elimination. The announcement came as part of an email to FOP leaders and trainees asking them for input in selecting a new FOP director among finalists for the position.

“On a related note, some of you know that the College has decided not to continue to pursue the Experiential Learning Center,” Teplitz wrote in the email. “FOP should be largely unaffected by the change. However, the decision has meant the elimination of my role, and I will be leaving Harvard at the end of June.”

As director of the Experiential Learning Center, Teplitz works to “encourage and support personally transformative experiences for students,” according to the DSO’s website. The center is one of several new initiatives created by the DSO when it officially opened in July 2018 as part of an effort to centralize programs formerly offered by the Office of Student Life and the Freshman Dean’s Office.

Associate Dean of Student Engagement Alex R. Miller said in an interview last month the DSO wanted to ensure that programming for the Experiential Learning Center did not overlap significantly with pre-existing initiatives.

“We were seeing pieces of the programming already happening,” Miller said. “What we’ve done is taken this opportunity to rethink the programming that’s already happening and look at what we were trying to accomplish with that center and see what we can now offer to students.”

DSO spokesperson Aaron M. Goldman declined to comment further on the decision to eliminate the Experiential Learning Center. Teplitz did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the termination of his role as director of the center.

Noah A. Fanous ’19, who served on the FOP Steering Committee in 2018, wrote in an email he thinks Teplitz has made a significant impact on the program during his tenure as director since 2010.

“I can just briefly mention that Coz Teplitz will be greatly missed at Harvard and, especially for FOP,” Fanous wrote. “For the past couple of years, he’s been the center of thousands of first-years’ introductions to Harvard and has been instrumental in the successful training of hundreds of Harvard’s greater leader community.”

Cailey Martin ’20, who has been a FOP leader for the past two years, also praised Teplitz’s impact on FOP leaders as well as incoming freshmen.

“Both in terms of the program, but also in terms of personally for many FOP leaders, I think he has served as an inspiring figure for many of us, and brought so much dedication and care to the program,” Martin said.

—Staff writer Sanjana L. Narayanan can be reached at sanjana.narayanan@thecrimson.com.

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