A Letter from Beth Kramer / Thank You and Farewell to Alumni and Friends
Dear Alumni and Friends,
It is with mixed emotions that I share the news that I will be stepping down from my role of Associate Dean for Development & Alumni Relations aligning with the successful conclusion of the Grounded Visionaries campaign on June 30. Over the past seven years of working with the alumni community and great friends of the School, I am exceedingly proud of what we have accomplished together and find this be the opportune moment for my transition and for reflection.
Discovering Gund Hall on the Harvard campus, I was introduced to both the rigor and expansiveness of design education. It was utterly mind-blowing. What I found most empowering was the importance and relevance of the work of the GSD; the Harvard Campaign presented the unique moment in which to showcase the School to the larger Harvard community, as well as to recognize the work of the almost 13,000 alumni around the world. There is a stunning diversity of work and study that occurs at the GSD and in our alumni community. The opportunity to work with you, the accomplished alumni and friends of the GSD, has been one of the great privileges of my professional career. I want to sincerely thank you for embracing our shared vital, highly relevant work. It’s been a great pleasure meeting many of you over the years and connecting over your time at the GSD, your passions, and your current work. Through our celebration of design at the Grounded Visionaries campaign launch, showcasing your work at our design weekends, hearing your memories during reunion, and countless other GSD events, the connections I’ve made with the alumni community and friends of the School are meaningful and significant.
The Grounded Visionaries campaign generated the occasion for the GSD to connect with a wider audience. By showcasing projects that go beyond traditional notions of design and expanding on GSD’s role in addressing major global challenges, we demonstrated the GSD’s critical role in design leadership and innovation. The Campaign is about balancing the dichotomy of being grounded while visionary—lofty ideas realized with social engagement. By exceeding our fundraising goal, I am gratified that the GSD is making strides in addressing complex issues such as sustainability, affordable housing, resilience, social equality, and urbanism. Together, through these multi-faceted efforts, we have dramatically increased the School’s intellectual footprint on the world stage through deeply engaging design leaders both locally and globally.
Supporting design education is a meaningful and worthwhile action. Through funding passionate, creative, and multi-dimensionally talented students, you are championing the skill sets of design professionals who not only rebuild communities after natural disasters but who care about how to design cities to improve human health and build beautiful and sacred spaces. By elevating the level of financial support during the Campaign, we are making progress in providing the next generation of design leaders with better access to innovative learning, exciting opportunities outside of the classroom and the freedom to pursue meaningful work upon graduation. A lasting impact of my time at the GSD is the new tradition of the annual fellowship reception, an event uniting students with the donors who are enabling their design educations. I am both optimistic and grateful for the immediate and future impact your engagement has on the lives of these aspiring designers.
Transformative environments are critical to the learning experience at the GSD, and I was thrilled to witness two especially memorable milestones during my tenure. In April, the GSD celebrated the commissioning of the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities HouseZero project. Owing to the generosity of the Evergrande Group, an integrated industry leader based in China who gave the Campaign’s largest gift for research, the School was able to launch intensive research and education programs aimed at creating sustainable, high-performance buildings through the retrofit of a 1940s house. Also, importantly, the Campaign allowed the School to strive and look to the future with the $15 million gift from Ronald M. Druker Loeb Fellow ’76 and the Bertram A. and Ronald M. Druker Charitable Foundation. Thanks to Ron Druker for the gift that provides the necessary seed funding for the GSD to launch an ambitious renewal and building expansion of Gund Hall; Harvard and the community will continue to benefit from the primary exhibition gallery, now named the Druker Design Gallery and new exterior GSD signage.
I want to thank Dean Mostafavi, faculty, staff, and students for their unwavering support over the last seven years and willingness to embrace my ideas and the ideas of the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. I will spend the coming weeks saying “thank you” to the countless people who I have worked closely with and who have contributed to the GSD’s success. I look forward to hearing about the great work ahead as the School continues its ambitious and bold agenda.