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Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Evelyn Hammonds: Harvard’s 1st African-American Dean Steps Down After Scandal

hammondsEvelyn Hammonds, the first African-American and first female dean of Harvard College, has announced that she will step down from her post on July 1, following a storm of condemnation for the way she handled a student cheating scandal at the Cambridge school.

Hammonds, 60, has been the dean of the college for five years. She was at the center of a controversy earlier this year because of her decision to allow the search of staff members’ Harvard email accounts to uncover who leaked a confidential message about a student cheating scandal to The Harvard Crimson, the student paper.

After Harvard disclosed last summer that more than 100 students were suspected of cheating on a take-home exam, many elements of the administrative board investigation, which was supposed to be confidential, were reported by The Crimson.

In March, the story broke that university administrators, looking for the source of the leaks, had searched through the Harvard email accounts of 16 resident deans without notifying them. Resident deans are junior faculty members who live in student houses and act as student advisers. 

In her statement, Hammonds claimed that she wasn’t stepping down because of the controversy.

“The email controversy was difficult, but it was not a motivating factor in my decision to step down as dean,” she said.

Hammonds will move to Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, where she will study the impact of race and gender in scientific fields, topics that she has investigated for years in her scholarly work.

“I was never asked to step down,” Hammonds said. “I have been in discussions to return to academia and my research for some time.”

But before joining the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, which is directed by famed Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., Hammonds will take a sabbatical of unspecified length.

 

About Nick Chiles

Nick Chiles, Editor-in-Chief of AtlantaBlackStar, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author. He has written or co-written 13 books and won over a dozen major journalism awards during a journalism career that brought him to the Dallas Morning News, the Star-Ledger of New Jersey and New York Newsday, in addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief of Odyssey Couleur travel magazine.

Comments

  1. Your title is so misleading. Anyone who has ever held a job where they have access to email is fully aware of the fact that the employer; Harvard in this case, has every right to view their employees email.

    Don't fall into the media trap of besmirching the name of African-Americans who have obtained greatness for the sake of a news story.

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