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Independent Investigation:
The White Report

Commissioned by a committee of the University’s Board of Trustees, Former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White carried out an investigation in 2017 into claims of sexual harassment and retaliation. Attorney White also reviewed the University’s related processes, policies, and procedures. In her 207-page report, she called on the University to take a number of steps to “set the bar and set it high.”

READ THE REPORT

WATCH THE PRESS CONFERENCE


RECOMMENDATIONS & RESPONSE

Learn about each of the report’s recommendations and track progress as the University implements these key steps toward creating a more open and inclusive campus climate.


  • 1 Create a brochure to outline rights and procedures for sexual harassment claims.
    RECOMMENDATION 1

    Create and begin using a brochure, written in plain language, that outlines the rights of sexual harassment claimants, witnesses, and those accused, and the procedures to be followed in making and investigating a claim. (Read the full recommendation.)

    UNIVERSITY RESPONSE

    The University posted newly created guides for students, faculty, and staff that detail reporting options and resources for complainants, witnesses, and respondents.

  • 2 Develop a diverse pool of trained advisors and hire two new counsel to advise claimants and the accused.
    RECOMMENDATION 2

    Develop a diverse pool of trained advisors—including academic deans, faculty members, and other officers—who can advise claimants, potential claimants, and faculty members accused of sexual harassment. Make readily known the availability of these advisors, the range and purpose of their services, and the confidentiality accorded to their consultations. Hire two new counsel to advise claimants and the accused on sexual harassment claims involving faculty. (Read the full recommendation.)

    UNIVERSITY RESPONSE

    This recommendation was intended to ensure that resources were available to provide those involved in a harassment/discrimination claim or investigation with clear resources to help answer questions. In February, the University identified two advisors to assist claimants, potential claimants, or an accused in matters involving claims of sexual harassment by a faculty member. The University also identified HR Business partners as resources, particularly for staff.

  • 3 Review the University’s current mandatory training on sexual harassment.
    RECOMMENDATION 3

    Undertake and complete a review of the University’s current mandatory training on sexual harassment for faculty, students, staff, and trainees, with the goal of providing the best possible training at least annually and when anyone joins the University community. (Read the full recommendation.)

    UNIVERSITY RESPONSE

    The University conducted a comprehensive review of mandatory training programs for sex-based harassment, discrimination, and unconscious bias. A team of leaders from human resources assembled focus groups with faculty and solicited feedback from the University Diversity and Equity Council Executive Committee and staff groups to customize a set of training modules. The Diversity Learning Series launched in the fall. The team is also identifying experiential learning opportunities to supplement the online modules.

  • 4 Amend the University’s Policy 106.
    RECOMMENDATION 4

    Amend the University’s Policy 106—the policy on gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment—to specify examples, use clear language, and indicate the range of disciplinary and other remedial actions that may be taken. The University should also consider adding a statement to encourage University community members to report sexual harassment by anyone subject to the policy. (Read the full recommendation.)

    UNIVERSITY RESPONSE

    Revisions to Policy 106 are under review. A committee representative of faculty, staff, and students has met regularly since mid-April. The group will have a draft policy and report to share with the White Report Oversight Committee, the Faculty Senate, the University Diversity and Equity Council Executive Committee, and the community by November.

  • 5 Retain expert outside counsel to advise on new procedures regarding confidentiality of claim investigations.
    RECOMMENDATION 5

    Retain expert outside counsel to advise the president and general counsel on developing new procedures regarding the confidentiality of investigations of claims of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct by faculty members—with the aim of adopting, within six months, formal procedures that more carefully and flexibly balance needs for confidentiality and transparency. (Read the full recommendation.)

    UNIVERSITY RESPONSE

    The University retained the firm of Littler Mendelson as outside counsel to research, gather information, and advise on procedures regarding confidentiality of investigations of employee complaints of discrimination and harassment. The firm delivered a memo that is being considered by the Policy 106 Committee as part of its work. That committee can also solicit further input from the firm as necessary.

  • 6 Publish annual data about complaints and their resolution.
    RECOMMENDATION 6

    Publish annual data about complaints and their resolution. (Read the full recommendation.)

    UNIVERSITY RESPONSE

    The University expects to have a public report on complaints of harassment/discrimination and bias available this fall. A working group has reviewed the models identified in the White Report and made recommendations for sexual misconduct reporting. In addition to sexual misconduct reporting, the University plans to develop a common mechanism to report and track bias-related incidents. Proposed reports will be reviewed by the Trustee’s White Report Oversight Committee and the University Diversity and Equity Council.

  • 7 Amend the University’s IT Policy.
    RECOMMENDATION 7

    Discuss implementing procedures for reviewing emails on University servers and amend the University’s IT Policy. (Read the full recommendation.)

    UNIVERSITY RESPONSE

    A revised policy is in the final stages of the review process. While the current policy includes a statement about privacy, a Faculty Senate Working Group published a set of recommendations in a report to the University community on March 21, 2018. The Information Technology Policy Committee has drafted an updated policy based on that report. In accordance with the Policy on Policy-Making, the revised policy will be reviewed by the Policy Approval Committee (General Counsel, Chief Financial Officer, and Provost) and referred to the President for approval. The proposal will also be shared with the White Report Oversight Committee (WROC) of the Board of Trustees.

  • 8 Improve online access to policies and procedures.
    RECOMMENDATION 8

    Improve online access to policies and procedures, and provide easy-to-use contact information for the Title IX coordinator, the intercessor, and other relevant staff members. (Read the full recommendation.)

    UNIVERSITY RESPONSE

    The University launched this website—”Culture of Respect”—to serve as a central source for access to resources and information. Efforts to identify ways to improve clarity and access are continuing, as will efforts to ensure that any additional information developed will be as comprehensive as possible.

  • 9 Consider revisions to the Intimate Relationships Policy.
    RECOMMENDATION 9

    The Board of Trustees should direct the president and provost to initiate consideration by the Faculty Senate of proposed amendments to the Intimate Relationships Policy flatly prohibiting all intimate relationships between faculty and students in the same department. (Read the full recommendation.)

    UNIVERSITY RESPONSE

    A revised policy was approved by the Board of Trustees in May 2018 and is now in place. The revisions were based on the work of a committee that included representatives of the Faculty Senate, the Graduate Student Association, and the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia. The Faculty Handbook has been updated. A broader process of implementation is currently underway.

  • 10 Dedicate an office to investigate sexual harassment or misconduct involving faculty.
    RECOMMENDATION 10

    Dedicate an office, outside the Office of Counsel, to investigate sexual harassment or misconduct involving faculty. (Read the full recommendation.)

    UNIVERSITY RESPONSE

    President Feldman has launched a search for an inaugural Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer. An Interim Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion and an Interim Associate Vice President for Equal Opportunity, reporting directly to the president, have been appointed. The Associate Vice President for Equal Opportunity is conducting a search for a new investigator, who will report to him. The new AVPs will be part of a new Office of Equity and Inclusion, as described in the response to Recommendation 11, and will ultimately report to the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion.

    This recommendation also directs the President and the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate to consider establishing an appropriately comprised committee to recommend corrective action following the conclusion of every University Policy 106 investigation. The Policy 106 Committee is reviewing the recommendation to establish a committee to recommend corrective action at the conclusion of every University Policy 106 investigation. Their report is expected later in the fall semester.

  • 11 Appoint a senior official to oversee implementation of the recommendations.
    RECOMMENDATION 11

    The president should appoint a senior, cabinet-level official to oversee the implementation of the report’s recommendations, including compliance with deadlines. (Read the full recommendation.)

    UNIVERSITY RESPONSE

    The Board of Trustees asked President Feldman to oversee the implementation of the report recommendations and he has led the process of implementation. President Feldman has launched the search for an inaugural Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer who will would coordinate and develop University-level diversity, inclusion, and equity efforts.

  • 12 Create a trustee-level committee to oversee implementation of the recommendations.
    RECOMMENDATION 11

    Create a trustee-level committee to oversee implementation of the recommendations and deadline compliance, as well as other initiatives at the University to combat sexual harassment, misconduct, discrimination, and retaliation throughout the University. (Read the full recommendation.)

    UNIVERSITY RESPONSE

    In mid-February 2018, the Board of Trustees approved the creation of an ad hoc White Report Oversight Committee to offer guidance on structural and cultural transformation initiatives. The committee is composed of Lance Drummond (chair), Nomi Bergman (vice chair), Chris Boehning, Barbara Burger, Kathy Murray, Tom Richards, and Danny Wegman. The initial term for the committee will run through December 2019, although it could be dissolved earlier or extended with support from the Board chair and Board.