Harvard Email Scandal Prompts Dean’s Resignation

A Harvard email scandal involving cheating and electronic snooping has resulted in the resignation of Harvard College Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds.

Hammonds was swept up in the Harvard email scandal in March after it was reported she had initiated a search of the email accounts of resident deans in an effort to determine who had leaked information on a separate scandal involving cheating and more than 100 students.

At the time, calls for Hammonds’ resignation began, including an article in The Harvard Crimson titled, “To Rebuild Trust, Hammonds Must Resign.”

Of the decision to conduct a secret search of resident deans’ email contents, Hammonds and Dean Michael D. Smith said in a statement:

“While the specific document made public may be deemed by some as not particularly consequential, the disclosure of the document and nearly word-for-word disclosure of a confidential board conversation led to concerns that other information — especially student information we have a duty to protect as private — was at risk.”

The statement continued:

“Consequently, with the approval of the dean of FAS (Faculty of Arts and Sciences) and the University General Counsel, and the support of the dean of Harvard College, a very narrow, careful, and precise subject-line search was conducted by the University’s IT department.”

Hammonds and Smith clarified at the time that no email contents were combed in the cheating scandal leak probe, and later revealed that it appeared an inadvertent forward and not an intentional one caused the initial scandal to unfold.

After the Harvard email scandal and the announcement that Hammonds would step down, the Dean denied the resignation was linked to the controversial email probe and said:

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

Following the Harvard email scandal, faculty members as well as students vehemently objected to what was widely seen as an unacceptable invasion of privacy in the initial investigation.