Image via Kris Snibbe/Harvard

After five years of serving as dean of Harvard College, Evelynn Hammonds will be stepping down from her leadership position. Hammonds announced in April she authorized a round of secret email searches, drawing criticism both from faculty and from students who urged: “To rebuild trust, Hammonds must resign.”

Word spread in mid-March that Harvard administrators secretly searched the email accounts of 16 deans to try and discover who leaked information of the University’s Introduction to Congress cheating scandal to the press. Hammonds issued a second search, however, focused specifically one one resident who was identified as having shared the news, directly violating the Faculty of Arts and Sciences faculty email privacy policy, which requires approval for any search from FAS Dean Michael Smith.

At the time, Hammonds said she conducted the search out of concern students implicated in the cheating scandal would be revealed. More than half of the 125 Harvard undergraduates in the cheating scandal were forced to withdraw from the College for an undisclosed period of time.

Hammonds will step down on July 1 and take a sabbatical. When she returns to Harvard, she will lead a new program at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research on the role of race and gender in science and medicine, according to the Harvard Gazette.

“Being dean of Harvard College has been an immensely rewarding experience for me, but I miss engaging deeply with my scholarship and teaching,” said Hammonds in a statement. “I am looking forward to redesigning my classes in light of new technologies and modes of teaching, and I’m eager to return to my teaching and research on race, genomics and gender in science and medicine.”

Harvard President Drew Faust commended Hammonds’ leadership, saying, “I’m grateful to her for all she has done to help our undergraduates thrive, and we will be fortunate to continue benefiting from her talents and wisdom when she returns to the faculty after a well-deserved sabbatical.”