Harvard University’s maladroit defenestration of Ronald Sullivan and his wife, Stephanie Robinson, struck a blow against liberal education. Many of Harvard’s own left-liberal luminaries are up in arms. But the university’s disgraceful act can come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention for the last few decades to higher education in general and to Harvard in particular.
On May 11, the Harvard Crimson reported that Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana informed Winthrop House residents by email that morning that he would not renew Sullivan and Robinson — both of whom teach at Harvard Law School and will keep their positions there — as Winthrop faculty deans. The first African Americans to head one of Harvard’s 12 residential houses, Sullivan and Robinson had served in that position for 10 years.
The trouble began in January when Professor Sullivan — faculty director of the Harvard Criminal Justice Institute and the Harvard Trial Advocacy Workshop — announced that he would serve on the legal team representing film producer Harvey Weinstein, who faces criminal charges of rape and other sexual misconduct (Sullivan left Weinstein’s defense team on Friday, May 10, the day before Dean Khurana made public his decision).