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Diversity Dean Davis to Step Down for ‘Personal Reasons’ After One Year in Job

Associate Dean of Students for Diversity and Inclusion Roland S. Davis at an April Undergraduate Council meeting.
 

Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Roland S. Davis will step down from his role at the end of September for “personal reasons,” Dean of Students Katherine G. O’Dair wrote in an email to students Thursday.

Davis is leaving Harvard one year after he started the job. During his tenure, he advocated for a multicultural center on campus and helped students process the controversial arrest of a black undergraduate in April that prompted allegations of police brutality.

In her email, O’Dair praised Davis’s contributions to the College.

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“In his time at Harvard, Dean Davis has helped the College better understand the social, cultural, and psychological factors that impact many communities on our campus, and we are all deeply grateful to him for his work,” she wrote.

Davis’s time as associate dean was not free from controversy. He stumbled into trouble when administrators placed Christian fellowship Harvard College Faith and Action on a year-long “administrative probation” after the group removed a female student from her leadership position following her decision to enter into a same-sex relationship.

Soon after the probation took effect, Davis told a small group of students that Harvard was reluctant to punish HCFA in part because the school did not want to be seen as waging war on Christianity, the students told The Crimson. Davis later apologized for his remarks, writing in an email that he had spoken “off-handedly and flippantly.”

In an interview Thursday, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana said he is grateful for Davis’s work and is “really sad” that he is stepping down.

As administrators search for a permanent replacement for Davis, Associate Dean of Student Engagement Alexander R. Miller will take over three of the four divisions that comprise the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion — the Office of BGLTQ Student Life, the Office of Diversity Education and Support, and the Women’s Center, according to O’Dair’s email. The Harvard College Title IX Office will report to O’Dair and Associate Dean Joan Rouse will continue serving as the Interim Director of the Harvard Foundation, O’Dair wrote.

Separately, the College will also “conduct a formal review of the administrative structures of the EDI Office and the Harvard Foundation” with the goal of integrating the organizations more effectively, O’Dair wrote.

She wrote administrators will offer more details about the search process for Davis’s successor in November.

Davis could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

—Staff writer Caroline S. Engelmayer can be reached at caroline.engelmayer@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @cengelmayer13

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