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