First African American Dean of Harvard College to Step Down

Evelynn M. Hammonds, the first woman and first African American to serve as dean of Harvard College, has announced that she will step from her post on June 30. She has served as dean for the past five years. Previously, she was senior vice provost for faculty development and diversity.

Dr. Hammonds resignation comes on the heels of a controversial decision by her and dean of the faculty Michael D. Smith to authorized searches of the e-mail accounts of 16 faculty members who were deans of resident halls on campus. The searches were authorized to find a person or persons who leaked information about an investigation of a cheating scandal by Harvard undergraduates.

The investigation did discover who had leaked the information to the press, but Dr. Hammonds and Dr. Smith failed to disclose to other faculty members that their email accounts had been searched. This was a violation of the university’s privacy policy.

In a statement released by the university, Dr. Hammonds was praised for her accomplishments during her five years as dean and no mention was made of the e-mail controversy.

Dr. Hammonds, the Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and professor of African and African American studies, will take a sabbatical and then return to the university to head up a new program on the Study of Race and Gender in Science and Medicine at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard.

Dr. Hammonds holds bachelor’s degrees from Spelman College and the Georgia Institute of Technology. She earned a master’s degree in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in the history of science from Harvard.

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