Harvard economic professor Roland Fryer suspended after allegations of sexual harassment

Posted at 6:45 PM, Jul 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-10 20:45:39-04

Harvard University has suspended a high-profile economics professor after several women made sexual harassment claims and internal investigations were launched, according to an internal memo obtained by CNN on Wednesday.

Roland G. Fryer, who was also the faculty director of the Education Innovation Laboratory, was suspended for two years without pay after the university found that he “engaged in unwanted sexual conduct toward several individuals,” wrote Claudine Gay, a Harvard dean, to the economics department.

Fryer’s Education Innovation Laboratory, which focused on collecting data and research to help form government policy, will also be closed.

“I am deeply disappointed, particularly because the important and outstanding work of my colleagues in our economics research Lab has been forced to stop,” Fryer said in a statement. “Harvard has spoken. In due course, I will as well.”

After Fryer returns from suspension, he will not be an adviser or a supervisor. Dean Gay will decide if Fryer can teach an undergraduate course under a monitor’s supervision. He will not have access to graduate fellows, the letter said.

Fryer will be allowed to teach graduate classes but not graduate workshops.

“Professor Fryer exhibited a pattern of behavior that failed to meet expectations of conduct within our community and was harmful to the well-being of its members,” according to Gay’s statement to the economics department.

Fryer was a rising star at the university. He was the youngest African American to receive tenure at Harvard at the age of 30, according to his bio on the university’s website.

He received the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and the John Bates Clark Medal, which was given by the American Economic Association to the best American Economist under the age of 40, also according to his biography. Other accolades include a fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Calvo-Armengol Prize and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the National Science Foundation.

The university’s Office for Dispute Resolution received complaints against Fryer in January, March and April of 2018, according to a university spokeswoman. Each complaint was investigated and Fryer was interviewed multiple times and submitted his responses to the allegations. The university came to a conclusion about the allegations in November 2018 and February of this year, the spokeswoman said.

Gay then convened a committee of six tenured faculty and charged them with deciding how to deal with Fryer.

“The totality of these behaviors is a clear violation of institutional norms and a betrayal of the trust of the (Faculty of Arts and Sciences) community,” according to Gay’s statement.