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UR makes changes to 'special committee' looking at harassment allegations

Sep 28, 2017

The University of Rochester Special Committee set up to respond to allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation is announcing some changes which it says will “confirm the rigor, fairness and transparency” of the investigative process.

The committee was set up recently after a complaint was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by current and former faculty members against Professor Florian Jaeger. The university has already announced that Jaeger, who had been initially cleared in an earlier investigation, is now on administrative leave.

After that committee was set up, those involved in the EEOC complaint expressed concerns about the independence of that committee as well as the need to get faculty and students more involved in the process.

In Thursday’s announcement, the Special Committee announced it will add a faculty member and a graduate student to the committee.  The university says the special committee has assured the person who is leading the investigation, former SEC Chair Mary Jo White, that she and her law firm will have unfettered access to all witnesses, documents and other information.

The Special Committee will not get any information on the findings from White’s group until that report is complete.  The committee wants to see the investigation completed by the end of the year.

Several of the complainants in the EEOC filing issued a response saying that while they welcome the appointment of a student and faculty representative to the special committee, they remained concerned with how the process has been set up.  The group of current and former faculty says that it has been investigating events at UR for more than a year and would be happy to help improve the university in the way the special committee appears to be intend, but the group of complainants says it can't do that while its legal action is pending, saying that the university's special committee represents a "private inquiry conducted by lawyers paid by the university."