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Recommendations and Responses

The University community is currently reviewing and responding to the recommendations outlined in the Independent Investigation Report. Those recommendations are a starting point. In the coming weeks, other groups will offer additional recommendations to improve policies related to sexual harassment and address issues related to campus climate. Together, the University community will begin to put those ideas into action.

New Status Updates

See the latest status updates on the University's response to each recommendation.
Yellow flags indicate the most recent updates.

Recommendation 3
Recommendation 4
Recommendation 5
Recommendation 6
Recommendation 9
Recommendation 10
Recommendation 11

Independent Investigation Report

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

Watch Attorney White’s news conference held on January 1, 2018.

View Transcript

University of Rochester Tower

The White Recommendations

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

  • 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 will draft this written notice and will update it as part of ongoing efforts to rework processes and structures. The intent is to draft a brochure for broad use, not just in cases of claims against faculty, and will result in multiple versions of the brochure.

     

    Update: April 9, 2018

    The University has posted newly created guides for students and faculty/staff that detail reporting options and resources for complainants, witnesses, and respondents. The University is working to create more extensive, permanent versions ready for use by June 1, 2018.

     

    Update: June 1, 2018

    While the University has made significant progress in creating more extensive versions of the guides for faculty, staff, and students, additional time is needed to develop comprehensive materials that are useful for all members of the University community. The guides will be ready for use later this summer.

    Last Updated
    June 1, 2018
    Report Deadline

    April 10, 2018

    COLLAPSEMore Details
  • 2a

    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. (Read the full recommendation.)

    University Response

    The University has identified two advisors and additional resources to provide information to students about sexual misconduct. Efforts also are underway to look at ways of expanding the network of available advisors. The nature of the advisor role is complex, and there are differences between an advisor who helps a potential claimant or an accused party understand the process, and an advisor or advocate who provides support to a claimant or accused party in matters involving sexual harassment. The University should provide both types of resources, but it is important that they be distinct from each other. By April 10, 2018, the University will have an expanded list. This will likely evolve over time as the University better understands the community’s needs and identifies people who can address those needs.

     

    Update: April 9, 2018

    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, thus meeting the April 10th deadline established in the White Report. The University also identified HR Business partners as resources, particularly for staff. The University plans to have advisors available for claimants, potential claimants, and accused in matters involving claims of sexual harassment by anyone, including students, faculty, and staff. The University will continue to expand the list of advisors available. A working group is being assembled to create a University-wide Ombuds program that will provide informal assistance in resolving disputes in an impartial and objective manner.

    Last Updated
    April 9, 2018
    Report Deadline

    None Given

    COLLAPSEMore Details
  • 2b

    Hire two new counsel to advise claimants and the accused on sexual harassment claims involving faculty. (Read the full recommendation.)

    University Response

    This recommendation, like the previous one, is about advisors. The University agrees advisors are needed and is reviewing and conducting benchmarking to understand best practices in providing support, guidance, and legal advice to claimants. The University will hire an investigator to work on discrimination/harassment claims who will not be located in the Office of Counsel. The University is currently exploring alternate reporting structures and it is possible that the investigator will be part of an office that hasn’t yet been established. Kate Nearpass, who currently conducts investigations as part of her role as Senior Counsel for Labor and Employment, will be reassigned to focus on work in the Office of Counsel.

     

    Update: April 9, 2018

    The University will hire an investigator to work on discrimination and harassment claims who will not be located in the Office of Counsel, but likely in a new office focused on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. A consultant, DeEtta Jones, has been hired to help design the new office. Her report will be delivered in early June 2018, and it is anticipated that the new office will be established in the spring of 2019.

    Last Updated
    April 9, 2018
    Report Deadline

    April 10, 2018

    COLLAPSEMore Details
  • 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

    A comprehensive review of mandatory training programs for sex-based harassment, discrimination, and unconscious bias has been undertaken. A team of leaders from human resources has recommended an approach to customize a set of training modules that will be mandatory for everyone in the University community. A message to the University community about the training will be shared in late March.

     

    Update: April 9, 2018

    The University has undertaken a comprehensive review of mandatory training programs for sex-based harassment, discrimination, and unconscious bias. A team of leaders from human resources is working with stakeholders to customize a set of training modules that will be launched in the fall. The team is also working on identifying experiential learning opportunities to supplement the online modules. A working group has been assembled to review the training approach for faculty and to develop recommendations about how to communicate information regarding the training, its importance, and its content.

     

    Update: June 25, 2018

    The working group assembled focus groups with faculty and solicited feedback from the University Diversity and Equity Council Executive Committee and staff groups. Framing messages are currently being prepared and the first phase of the Diversity Learning Series will launch later this summer.

    Last Updated
    June 25, 2018
    Report Deadline

    April 10, 2018

    COLLAPSEMore Details
  • 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. The Office of Counsel has conducted benchmarking and will prepare a report regarding the range of policy changes that might be considered. A committee of faculty, staff, administrators, and the Office of Counsel representatives will be convened to develop the actual policy changes. As this recommendation deals with issues of confidentiality, we would like to review the advice memorandum prepared by outside counsel (see recommendation #5) to inform our revisions.

    Update: April 9, 2018

    The Office of Counsel has conducted benchmarking and is developing a set of FAQs to provide the information identified by the White Report recommendation: acts that constitute sexual harassment, the kinds of disciplinary and remedial actions taken, and actions taken in response to misconduct that does not amount to sexual harassment. This document will be ready shortly and will be posted online. In addition to meeting the specific recommendation, the University is undertaking a larger review of Policy 106. Associate Vice President for Human Resources Tony Kinslow has assembled a committee made up of staff, students, and faculty to review proposed revisions to the policy. The first meeting of the committee is scheduled for April 12, 2018.

    Update: June 25, 2018

    The Policy 106 Committee has met regularly since mid-April. The group will continue to work through the summer and plans to have a draft policy to share with the White Report Oversight Committee, the Faculty Senate, and the University Diversity and Equity Council Executive Committee in the fall semester.

    Last Updated
    June 25, 2018
    Report Deadline

    April 10, 2018

    COLLAPSEMore Details
  • 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

    As directed in the report, the University has retained the firm of Littler Mendelson as outside counsel to research, gather information, and advise on new procedures regarding confidentiality of investigations of claims of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct by faculty members.

    Update: June 25, 2018

    A preliminary memo has been received from Littler Mendelson. The final version is expected shortly. The recommendations will be reviewed by the Office of Counsel and by the Policy 106 Committee.

    Last Updated
    June 25, 2018
    Report Deadline

    COLLAPSEMore Details
  • 6

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

    University Response

    The University assembles reports of claims under policy 106 each calendar year and under the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy each academic year. Based on the number of complaints, confidentiality is an issue when examining more granular specifics. This can be challenging, particularly with faculty and staff cases because there are so few. The University plans to conduct benchmarking to inform our approach and we will produce these reports by the end of the calendar year.

    Update: April 9, 2018

    The University has assembled a working group to review the Yale and Cornell models identified in the White Report and to develop recommendations to inform our approach to sexual misconduct reporting. The group will make their recommendations to the president by May 1, 2018. In addition to sexual misconduct reporting, we plan to develop a common mechanism to report and track bias-related incidents on campus as part of our efforts to strengthen our culture of respect. We have convened a working group to make recommendations about expanding the College’s Bias-Related Incident Reporting system across the University. This working group will make its recommendations to the president by May 1, 2018. The University will be well situated to meet the January 2019 deadline established in the White Report.

    Update: June 25, 2018

    The working group has reviewed a range of reporting models and made recommendations about our approach. Their report has been shared with the Trustee’s White Report Oversight Committee and the University Diversity and Equity Council. We expect to have a public report on complaints available in the fall semester.

    Last Updated
    June 25, 2018
    Report Deadline

    End of 2018

    COLLAPSEMore Details
  • 7

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

    University Response

    While the current policy includes a statement about privacy, a Faculty Senate Working Group has taken the lead in drafting a report on this issue. The report has been shared with the University community and will soon be reviewed by the IT Policy Committee, which will draft an updated policy based on the report. In accordance with the Policy on Policy-Making, revisions to the policy will include review by the Policy Approval Committee (General Counsel, Chief Financial Officer, and the Provost). The report and any proposals will also be shared with the White Report Oversight Committee of the Board of Trustees. The Policy Approval Committee refers policies with potential for significant impact on the University to the President for approval, and the President may refer a proposed policy to the Board of Trustees for adoption.

    Update: April 9, 2018

    The Faculty Senate working group published a set of recommendations in their report to the University community on March 21, 2018. The report is being reviewed by the Information Technology Policy Committee, which will draft an updated policy based on the report. In accordance with the Policy on Policy-Making, any revisions would be reviewed by the Policy Approval Committee (General Counsel, the Chief Financial Officer and the Provost). The report and any proposals will also be shared with the White Report Oversight Committee (WROC) of the Board of Trustees. The Policy Approval Committee refers policies with potential for significant impact on the University to the President for approval, and the President may refer a proposed policy to the Board of Trustees for adoption. The collaborative process required to establish an effective policy for the entire University takes time and we will not meet the April 10th deadline identified in the White Report, but significant progress has been made.

    Last Updated
    April 9, 2018
    Report Deadline

    April 10, 2018

    COLLAPSEMore Details
  • 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

    As a first step, the University launched this website—”Cultivating a Culture of Respect.” Efforts to identify ways to improve clarity and access will continue, as will efforts to ensure that any additional information developed will be as comprehensive as possible. Updates on progress will be added to this website regularly as they become available.

    Update: April 9, 2018

    The University will continue to work on improving the clarity and access to information. No deadline was given for this recommendation in the White Report. This is likely to be an ongoing process.

    Last Updated
    April 9, 2018
    Report Deadline

    None Given

    COLLAPSEMore Details
  • 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 committee, including representatives of the Faculty Senate, the Graduate Student Association, and the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia, has drafted a revision to the current policy and is seeking feedback and comments from the University community. The group shared the draft broadly with the University community through a number of channels and has asked for feedback. Discussions of this policy will continue through the current semester.

    Update: April 9, 2018

    The drafted revision to the current policy will be further updated based on the March 20, 2018 Faculty Senate meeting and forums held on April 2, 2018 and April 4, 2018. Once approved by the Faculty Senate, 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 the Provost). The policy will also be shared with the White Report Oversight Committee of the Board of Trustees. Changes to the Faculty Handbook are ultimately approved by the Board of Trustees. Although a revised policy will not be in place by the April 10th deadline identified in the White Report, significant progress has been made.

    Update: June 25, 2018

    The Board of Trustees approved the revised policy at their May meeting. The Faculty Handbook has been updated. A broader process of implementation is currently underway.

    Last Updated
    June 25, 2018
    Report Deadline

    April 10, 2018

    COLLAPSEMore Details
  • 10

    Dedicate an office to investigating sexual harassment or misconduct involving faculty. (Read the full recommendation.)

    University Response

    This recommendation is focused on the investigation part of handling claims. The University will move investigations out of the Office of Counsel, likely into an office that hasn’t yet been established. The University is in the process of hiring a consultant to provide help during the process of developing this office, which will work on issues of diversity, 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. This approach is under consideration.

    Update: April 9, 2018

    The University has hired a consultant, DeEtta Jones, to assist in the design of an office that will house this function, as well as other components of our programs designed make the University more welcoming and inclusive. We expect the consultant’s report by June 1, 2018 and hope to have the office established in the spring semester of 2019. The White Report called for a report on the consideration of this issue by April 10th. It is taking more time to complete this recommendation because it has been incorporated into the much larger effort to design an office with a far more comprehensive and complex set of responsibilities.

    Update: June 25, 2018

    DeEtta Jones has delivered recommendations on the structure of the new office. The recommendations are being reviewed and decisions regarding structure will be made this summer.

    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 in the fall.

    Last Updated
    June 25, 2018
    Report Deadline

    April 10, 2018

    COLLAPSEMore Details
  • 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 will continue to play this role. He has appointed Emily Cihon Fehnel as his deputy to coordinate the University’s response. Moving forward, President Feldman will explore the creation of a new Chief Diversity Officer position that would coordinate University-level diversity, inclusion, and equity efforts.

     

    Update: April 9, 2018

    The White Report listed this as an immediate deadline (as of January 11, 2018). President Feldman is playing this role currently, and we have hired DeEtta Jones to assist in the creation of a new Chief Diversity Officer position that will coordinate University-level diversity efforts moving forward. We expect delivery of the draft position by June 7, 2018, and expect to begin the search to fill the role in the summer of 2018.

     

    Update: June 25, 2018

    DeEtta Jones has delivered the draft position description. The draft will be reviewed and discussed by senior leaders in the early summer. A search to fill the position is expected to launch soon after.

    Last Updated
    June 25, 2018
    Report Deadline

    Completed

    COLLAPSEMore Details
  • 12

    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, 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, and Tom Richards. The committee met on March 2 and plans to meet regularly. 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.

    Last Updated
    March 2, 2018
    Report Deadline

    Completed

    COLLAPSEMore Details

Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia

The Commission formed in October 2017 to help lead the University community’s effort to research and recommend policies and practices that promote a culture of respect, inclusiveness, and equal opportunity for individuals across the gender spectrum.

The Commission is comprised of faculty, students, and trainees from across all campuses and schools with four working groups that also include staff members. The Commission released a full report with recommendations in May 2018.

Read the Report

Commission on Women & Gender Equity

Updates from the Commission

June 29, 2018
President Richard Feldman has released a response to the preliminary report issued in May by the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia: “We are making progress, but there is still important work we must do together.”Read More
color dot illustration
May 16, 2018
The Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academic has issued a preliminary report. Read More
University of Rochester Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia co-chairs Amy Lerner and Antoinette Esce // Photographed February 22, 2018 // Photo by Stephen Dow / University of Rochester
March 18, 2018
The newly formed Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia, chaired by associate professor of biomedical engineering Amy Lerner, left, and medical student Antoinette Esce ’15 has agreed to recommendations for clearer policies related to such issues as sexual harassment and intimate relationships, but is calling for further action to address what they say are more central issues of gender inequity.Read More

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