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Couple named Harvard's first black house masters

Banner Staff | 3/4/2009, 3:54 a.m.
Decorated married academics and Harvard Law School alumni Stephanie Robinson (left) and Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. were chosen...
Decorated married academics and Harvard Law School alumni Stephanie Robinson (left) and Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. were chosen last month to become the first African American house masters in the history of Harvard University. Robinson: Banner file ; Sullivan: The Jamestown Project

Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and Stephanie Robinson were chosen last month to become the first African American house masters in Harvard University’s nearly 400-year history.

The couple, both of whom are alumni of Harvard Law School, will become the house masters of Winthrop House this coming fall.

House masters are responsible for “guiding the intellectual life and community” of the house under their charge, according to a statement announcing the decision. Only individuals who have earned distinction in a range of academic and professional pursuits are chosen to take the posts.

Harvard Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds, who last year became the first woman to ascend to that post, made the announcement. School officials say tapping Sullivan and Robinson is consistent with efforts to “foster greater diversity among house masters.”

Both Sullivan and Robinson certainly fulfill the academic and professional distinction criterion.

Sullivan is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta and the current director of the Harvard Criminal Justice Institute. He has spent time documenting human rights violations in Kenya, and served as the director for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Previously, he was a member of the faculty at Yale Law School, where he received that school’s award for outstanding teaching in his first year.

Not to be outdone, Robinson is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Maryland who was named one of Ebony magazine’s “30 Young Leaders of the Future” in 1997. She is the president and CEO of The Jamestown Project, a Harvard Law-based democracy think tank comprised primarily of minorities and women (Sullivan is a senior fellow of the project). She previously served as chief counsel to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and is also the political commentator for the “Tom Joyner Morning Show,” a popular syndicated radio program with 10 million listeners across the globe.

“Ron and I are humbled and honored to serve in this capacity,” said Robinson. “We look forward to contributing to the intellectual life of Harvard College as masters.”

Together, the couple run The Robinson Sullivan consulting group. They also have one son, Ronald III.