While Eric Holder refuses to resign and Obama refuses to fire him, another leading citizen appears to be moving toward a resignation after her own controversial leak investigation scandal. Harvard Dean Evelynn Hammands is leaving her post as undergraduate dean in the wake of a controversy over her ordering the searches of the emails of junior faculty to determine who spoke with the media on a recent cheating scandal. In my view, it was an outrageous act that contravened both academic and privacy principles.
She will step down in July but will then lead a new program on race and gender in medicine and science. She has denied that the scandal was any influence in her decision to resign.
Hammands investigation sounded strikingly similar to the defenses of the Administration in the interception of emails and the investigation of leakers. The scandal began as a response to another scandal. It was disclosed that 100 students were suspected of cheating on a take-home exam and dozens were forced to take a leave from the college. Hammands ordered the search of 16 resident deans who live in the student houses and serve as student advisers. They were not given notice of the interceptions, though Hammonds and Michael D. Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, later insisted that they only spied on the email subject lines were examined, not their contents. It is hardly a defense. They violated the privacy of faculty and discarded any notion of due process and confidentiality.
The resignation was overdue, even with the denial of any pressure to resign. The question is whether Harvard will now just let this matter drop instead of taking any disciplinary action for the leak investigation.