Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., a Black Harvard University law professor, and his wife, Stephanie Robinson, who is a Harvard law lecturer, will be removed from their positions as faculty deans of Winthrop House after their term ends on June 30.

The couple were the first Black faculty deans in the university’s history, CNN reports.

According to the network, Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khuruna wrote a letter addressing concerns about the deteriorating climate at Winthrop House, which is one of 12 undergraduate residential houses at the school but declined to specify the issue.

“Over the last few weeks, students and staff have continued to communicate concerns about the climate in Winthrop House to the college. The concerns expressed have been serious and numerous,” Khurana wrote.”This decision in no way lessens my gratitude to them for their contributions to the college.”

Sullivan did spark backlash and criticism back in January when it was announced that he would be representing Harvey Weinstein in his sexual assault trial. Weinstein, a once-esteemed movie mogul, plummeted to disgrace when several accusations of rape, sexual assault, and misconduct came to light, further propelling the #MeToo movement into the nation’s consciousness.

The day he announced that he was joining Weinstein’s defense team, Sullivan sent out an email to undergraduate students and resident tutors at Winthrop, stating how it was important to defend people who are seen as “guilty, unpopular, vile or undesirable,” CNN notes.

“It is particularly important for this category of unpopular defendant to receive the same process as everyone else — perhaps even more important,” Sullivan wrote.”To the degree we deny unpopular defendants basic due process rights we cease to be the country we imagine ourselves to be. In fact, most of the due process rights we hold dearest derive from lawyers who represented unpopular defendants.”

Weinstein’s trial is set to begin on September 9, where he will face five felony charges, including two counts of predatory sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual act in the first degree, and one count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The couple released a joint statement to CNN, voicing their “surprise” and dismay at the university’s decision.

“We are surprised and dismayed by the action Harvard announced today. We believed the discussions we were having with high-level University representatives were progressing in a positive manner, but Harvard unilaterally ended those talks,” the statement read. “We will now take some time to process Harvard’s actions and consider our options.We are sorry that Harvard’s actions and the controversy surrounding us has contributed to the stress on Winthrop students at this already stressful time.”


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