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Department of Justice Press Conference

Statement from President Royce C. Engstrom - May 9, 2013

At the University of Montana, we have embarked upon a goal of creating one of the most effective learning environments in public higher education. Such an environment absolutely requires a safe learning atmosphere, striving for a campus free from the threat of sexual violence. As President, I take the responsibility of providing a safe learning and living environment extremely seriously, and so do my colleagues.

Being confronted with reports of incidents in the recent past, we realized that despite the best of intentions, our policies, training and practices regarding sexual assault and harassment needed improvement. We immediately began a process of reform.

Through dialogue with the Department of Justice during this past year, we have arrived at a comprehensive plan to ensure that the University becomes a model of compliance with Title IX and Title IV. Through these agreements, we will address matters of education, training, policy revision, practices, reporting and tracking. As noted by the Department of Justice, the University has fully cooperated and collaborated to outline the necessary changes.

We have already begun implementation and are far down the road on many fronts. But much hard work remains.

This is about much more than compliance; this is about doing the right thing for our students and for our community. In that regard, I pledge to work hand in hand with Mayor Engen and members of our community, along with the Department of Justice, and I thank them for the partnership we have had to this point.

Of course, I am pleased to see the end of this period of investigation by the DOJ. Now, we look forward to working on solutions. We will emerge as an institution that had a problem, took it head-on, and came out as a national leader.

The University of Montana has for 120 years provided exceptional opportunities for students from Montana, around the country, and even beyond. This University has opened doors that have propelled people to successful careers and fulfilling lives. We have a University of which we are proud and to which we are dedicated.

The actions taken here today will help ensure that the University of Montana retains its position as one of the nation’s great institutions, providing a safe and nurturing atmosphere for all who choose to study and work here.