Ozzie Harris, who served as the senior vice provost for community and diversity since 2007, is no longer employed by Emory University as of earlier this month, according to Nancy Seideman, interim vice president for communications and marketing.

In his most recent position, Harris was a senior member of the Office of the Provost, according to the Emory website. He was responsible for advancing and establishing efforts that enhanced a sense of community at the University as well as guiding campus diversity projects.

Seideman confirmed Harris’ Oct. 7 departure in an email to the Wheel but declined to clarify whether his employment was terminated by the University or self-terminated. She said the University does not comment on personnel issues.

She also declined to specify whether Harris’ departure was related to a lawsuit filed against the University in June in which Melissa Sexton, a former community research post-doctoral fellow who worked at Emory for more than a decade, alleges that Harris engaged in gender discrimination when he fired her last year.

Specifically, the lawsuit claims that Harris fired Sexton after she objected to the promotion of a much less qualified male candidate to a position in which she had expressed interest.

About two weeks before the termination of her contract, she confronted Harris after he allegedly said that if a woman does not immediately file a complaint about rape or sexual harassment through the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs (EOP), then the situation must not be very important to her, the Wheel reported on Oct. 29.

Harris did not respond to an email sent to his Emory address — which automatically sends a message stating that he no longer works at the University — and a Facebook message to his personal account.

In a statement to the Wheel, Claire Sterk, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, announced that Robert Franklin, former president of Morehouse College who has held several positions at Emory throughout the past, will serve in the interim as senior advisor on community and diversity to the provost and will also work with other senior administrators.

At Emory, Franklin previously served as the director of Black Church Studies at the Candler School of Theology, and then as Presidential Distinguished Professor of Social Ethics and a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion.

When reached for comment, Franklin referred all inquiries to Seideman.

Additionally, Dona Yarbrough, associate vice provost, will maintain the Office’s day-to-day operations, Sterk said.

The Office of the EOP, Center for Community Partnerships and the Center for Women — all of which work directly with the Office of Community and Diversity — will report to Dorothy Brown, vice provost for academic affairs.

Seideman wrote in an email to the Wheel that the University does not have information to offer at this time on what the search process for Harris’ replacement will entail.

— By Jordan Friedman 

  • Jethro Null

    Ozzie Harris, Rob Ford, Earl Lewis – how many more upper-level African-American personnel is Emory going to lose?

    Good thing we still have Gary “White Eyes” Hauk and Jim “I have interesting thoughts about the history of slavery” Wagner! Those are essential personnel right there …

    • Bob

      *John Ford

  • pollaseeds

    the problem with our ‘african-american personnel’ is that other than their appearance, there’s hardly anything non-white about them. this should be painfully obvious by now – participation in the Emory administration requires white views. obviously, ozzie had them. ultimately, his inability to manage such an arrogant conception of power with a cold and indifferent hauk-like calculation precipitated his expulsion from the circle of trust.

  • Concerned Student

    On the off-chance that Jim Wagner reads Wheel comments, I’d love to make a analogy that may illuminate some things and assist him in (more) courageously leading our community. Also, I know he’s fond of car analogies so here we go.*

    My car is overheating, so like any poor student I naturally google what to do. The first page I find says I need to get some radiator fluid stat. I go to autozone I get a jug of radiator fluid, walk back to my car and put the jug in my trunk. Problem solved, right? Because I didn’t read the web site far enough to know that I need to actually incorporate the fluid into the system, I’ve wasted my time and wrecked my car. We all know if I don’t actually use the fluid as required by the car’s system, it won’t work as intended and can do nothing to improve the health of the car. It’s pointless for me to take my disappointment in the failure out on the radiator fluid. Sure, it could be some off-brand kind that could actually wreck my car. In fact, clearly I’m clueless enough about cars that I probably accidentally bought that anti-bug windshield wiper fluid. But the fluid itself is negligible and to be honest, we’re lucky that I didn’t try to get creative and dump it in the gas tank. By now you might be able to see where I’m going with this. Ozzie Harris might have been horrible at his job, but to be honest we’ll never really know because he wasn’t in a position to do the job we imagined he should. The role of community and diversity as an office is situated in a way that they are unable to do very much of anything, regardless of who fills the roles.

    Here’s an idea. How about we hire someone (or even *gasp* several people) with a proven track record of reforming racially problematic institutions and situate those people within the university in a way that they might affect change and help us improve. Why not pay top dollar for the best people possible? Why not incorporate more people into positions of leadership across campus (including the President’s Cabinet) who are actually committed to seeking solutions that are sensitive to history and will lead us toward equitable outcomes and positive experiences for all students? We have really serious problems around race that need to be addressed now before we do any more damage. We’re wrecking the car.

    *Fair warning, I know little to nothing about cars. Sorry in advance.

  • ME

    Ozzie Harris= karma
    John Ford= retirement, time to relax with family
    Earl Lewis= better opportunities

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