Sarah Whiting, dean and Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is taking a “partial step back” from daily leadership responsibilities as she pursues treatment. Whiting made the announcement last week in an e-mail to the GSD community.
“Fortunately, Harvard and the Boston area are home to some of the finest healthcare providers in the world, and so I am in good hands,” Whiting wrote. “As difficult as it will be, especially at this critical juncture in the school’s history, I will need to follow the advice of my physician team, as well as of Harvard’s president and provost, and do my best to turn my energy toward my recovery.”
While Whiting undergoes medical care, longtime GSD professors Rahul Mehrotra and Niall Kirkwood will take on day-to-day administrative oversight for school affairs, with Mehrotra as dean designate and Kirkwood continuing as associate dean for academic affairs.
“What the last few weeks have shown again and again is that a dean’s success in leading a school forward depends so entirely on the strength of its community,” Whiting wrote. “Your collective willingness to jump into the fray, lend a hand, and help bring our school through the current moment—your generosity and your grit—have been endlessly inspiring to me personally, but also have ensured against all odds the uncompromising excellence and rigor that underpin GSD’s legacy. I have complete and total confidence in our combined ability to navigate the school onward, and you should too.”
Whiting was named dean in April 2019 and formally took over in July 2019. She had served since 2010 as dean of the Rice University School of Architecture, where she was the William Ward Watkin Professor of Architecture, and she also taught on the GSD faculty earlier in her career. She is co-founder and partner of WW Architecture, a firm she launched with her partner, Ron Witte, in 1999.