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New House Masters Chosen

By Bita M. Assad and Ahmed N. Mabruk, Crimson Staff Writerss

Law School Professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and Law School lecturer Stephanie Robinson have been chosen as the new masters of Winthrop House, and the first black House Masters in Harvard history, College Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds announced yesterday afternoon.

They will assume their new posts next fall, replacing Professor Stephen P. Rosen and Mandana Sassanfar, who called it quits after six years as the Winthrop House Masters, citing personal reasons for the decision.

The pick comes as part of a recent push by Hammonds to foster greater diversity among House Masters, a group that contains few minority members.

In an interview last December, the Dean said that she hopes to usher minority faculty into recently opened House Master positions.

The selection fills one of two recent vacancies. In November, Pforzheimer House Masters Sue and James J. McCarthy announced their intention to step down after 13 years in the Quad.

Even though the McCarthys announced their retirement about two months before Rosen and Sassanfar, their replacements have not yet been named.

As is typical among House Masters, both Sullivan and Robinson have earned distinctions in a wide range of academic and professional pursuits.

Sullivan is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College. He has worked in Kenya, documenting human rights violations, and served as the Director for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Though he was a new faculty member at Yale Law School, Sullivan received the award for outstanding teaching in his first year. Currently, he directs the Harvard Criminal Justice Institute.

Robinson, a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Maryland, was named one of Ebony Magazine’s 30 young African American leaders of the future in 1997. She presently serves as CEO of The Jamestown Project, a national think-tank compromised primarily of minorities and women that focuses on democracy.

The couple—both HLS graduates who also run the Robinson Sullivan consulting group—has one son, Ronald III.

Though House Committee members are formally incorporated in the Master selection process, Winthrop HoCo Chair William C. Quinn ’10 said the extent of his involvement in Sullivan and Robinson’s selection was limited.

He added that he looks forward to welcoming the couple into the Winthrop House community.

“They have a similar laid-back style [to Rosen and Sassanfar],” Quinn said. “They seem very House life.”

Among the 24 sitting House Masters, at least one of the two Masters in each House has served as a professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. But neither Sullivan nor Robinson had taught at the College prior to their selection, a fact that reflects both the high selectivity of the process and the limited pool of minority candidates among College faculty.

In an interview with The Crimson on Monday, Hammonds said a third set of House Masters would announce plans to step down during the next academic year.

Sullivan and Robinson did not return requests for comment last night.

—Staff writer Bita M. Assad can be reached at

—Staff writer Ahmed N. Mabruk can be reached at

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