Roland G. Fryer Jr.
Roland Gerhard Fryer Jr. (born June 4, 1977) is an American economist and professor at Harvard University. Following a difficult childhood, Fryer earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Texas at Arlington, but once there chose to concentrate instead on academics. Graduating cum laude in 2+1⁄2 years, he went on to receive a Ph.D. in economics from Pennsylvania State University in 2002 and completed postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago with Gary Becker. He joined the faculty of Harvard University and rapidly rose through the academic ranks; in 2007, at age 30, he became the second-youngest professor, and the youngest African-American, ever to be awarded tenure at Harvard. He has received numerous awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 2011 and the John Bates Clark Medal in 2015.
Fryer began his research career studying social image and segregation, and then moved toward empirical issues, particularly those concerning race and ethnicity. His work on the racial achievement gap in the US led to a stint as Chief Equality Officer for New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in which role Fryer implemented a pilot program rewarding low-income students with money for earning high test scores. In 2019, he published a controversial analysis arguing that Black and Hispanic Americans were no more likely than white Americans to be shot by police.
In 2019, a series of investigations at Harvard determined that Fryer had engaged in "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature" against at least five women, that he had fostered a hostile work environment in his lab, and also cited unspecified conduct violations regarding Fryer's grant spending and lab finances. As a result, Harvard suspended Fryer without pay for 2 years, closed his lab, and barred him from teaching or supervising students. In 2021, Harvard allowed Fryer to return to teaching and research, although he remained barred from supervising graduate students for at least another 2 years. Fryer apologized for the "insensitive and inappropriate comments that led to my suspension", saying that he "didn’t appreciate the inherent power dynamics in my interactions, which led me to act in ways that I now realize were deeply inappropriate for someone in my position."
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