Harvard Fires First Black Dean For Being Harvey Weinstein’s Lawyer

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Harvard Black Deans
FILE – In a Jan. 25, 2019 file photo, attorney and Harvard faculty member Ronald Sullivan Jr. arrives at New York Supreme Court, in New York. Sullivan, who decided to represent Harvey Weinstein at his rape trial, is losing his position as head of a student house at the college. Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana said in a written statement Saturday, May 11, 2019 that he would not renew the appointments of Ronald Sullivan and his wife, Stephanie Robinson, the school’s first black faculty deans, citing concerns about the climate at Winthrop House, which he described as serious and numerous. Sullivan lives at the house and supervises students there. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Due to a decision to represent accused rapist Harvey Weinstein, a couple who made history as Harvard’s first Black faculty deans will be relieved of those posts on June 30, reported the New York Times. Attorney Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and his wife Stephanie Robinson served as deans of Harvard’s Winthrop House since 2009.

The decision comes after months of student protests, who stated Sullivan’s decision to join Weinstein’s defense team disqualified him from serving as a mentor to students. A student sit-in and lawsuit resulted from increased tensions surrounding the issue, said the Times.

In an email, Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana informed students and staff Sullivan and Robinson’s contracts would not be renewed after conducting a climate review and making “a number of considerations.” The couple expressed shock and dismay at the decision, saying they thought discussions “were progressing in a positive manner.”

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Many of Sullivan’s colleagues came to his defense and the Harvard Black Law Students Association said the decision had “racist undertones” in a statement.

Sullivan echoed their sentiment.

“It is not lost on me that I’m the first African-American to hold this position, Sullivan told The Times. “Never in the history of the faculty dean position has the dean been subjected to a ‘climate review’ in the middle of some controversy.”

Robinson and Sullivan will, however, remain employed at Harvard’s law school. Robinson serves as Jesse Climenko Clinical Professor of Law and the director of the Criminal Justice Institute and Sullivan is a lecturer.