Hammonds created the university’s first bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer (BGLTQ) student life office.

The Harvard University administrator who authorized the secret search of staff eMail accounts following the university’s cheating scandal last year has resigned from her position as dean of Harvard College.

Evelynn M. Hammonds announced Tuesday that she would step down as dean on July 1 to focus on teaching and research in the department of African and African American Studies and the department of History of Science, according to a Harvard press release.

“I am looking forward to redesigning my classes in light of new technologies and modes of teaching, and I’m eager to return to my teaching and research on race, genomics and gender in science and medicine,” Hammonds stated.

Hammonds, who has served as dean for five years, led several major initiatives while in the position, including the launch of Harvard’s general education program.  She also helped create the university’s first bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer (BGLTQ) student life office.

She was the first African-American and the first woman to be named dean of the college.

Controversy crept into her legacy last summer, however, when Harvard announced that more than 100 students may have cheated on a take-home exam. As the university investigated the case, some details found their way to the student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson. Earlier this year, the Boston Globe reported that administrators searched the eMail accounts of 16 resident deans to find how the information was leaked.

See Page 2 for how the campus reacted to the eMail searches. 

Most of the resident deans had no idea the searches had taken place until reading of them in the Globe.

The revelation led to outrage among faculty and staff, despite the university claiming to have only searched eMail subject lines. Hammonds received the brunt of the criticism after she later admitted to ordering a second, more involved search of two eMail accounts belonging to one of the resident deans.

In April, the Harvard Crimson called for the dean’s resignation.

The university did not mention the email searches or the cheating scandal in the release, and said stepping down was Hammond’s choice so she can better focus on scholarship, research and teaching. Following a sabbatical, she will lead a new program for the Study of Race and Gender in Science and Medicine at Harvard’s W.E.B Du Bois Institute.

“Being dean of Harvard College has been an immensely rewarding experience for me, but I miss engaging deeply with my scholarship and teaching,” Hammonds said.

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