The Dean of Harvard College has stepped down over a scandal involving the search of email accounts without notifying account owners. The search of staff accounts was an attempt to plug a media leak about an ongoing cheating investigation.
Evelynn Hammonds is the dean of Harvard College which is the school within Harvard University that includes most undergraduates. Hammonds has stepped down and been place on sabbatical after it was revealed she authorized the search of email accounts belonging to 16 resident deans. Resident deans are Harvard staff who live in undergraduate housing.
The problem began with a cheating scandal at Harvard. The resident deans were part of a committee charged with investigating the scandal and news of the investigation leaked to the media. The school assumed, rightly it turned out, that one of the resident deans had leaked the information. Dean Hammonds authorized a search of 16 email accounts to identify the person responsible.
The search did identify the leaker, however, school policy requires that individuals be notified if their email accounts are being searched. Dean Hammond did not notify the other 15 individuals involved.
Hammonds will be on sabbatical and will return to her teaching position once it has ended.
The Harvard email scandal is reminiscent of the ongoing scandal involving the search of reporter James Rosen’s email account by the Department of Justice. Both cases stem from an attempt to plug a leak of information to the media. And in both cases there was a requirement to notify someone–the account owners at Harvard and Fox News in the Rosen case–which apparently was not followed.