Update from President Engstrom May 9, 2013
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Today, the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed the resolution of two investigations into the University of Montana’s handling of allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and we announced our collaborative agreements moving forward.
We have voluntarily agreed to continue our work to prevent sexual assault and harassment on campus, to improve our response to reports of sexual assault and harassment and to ensure that our Office of Public Safety’s response to allegations of sexual assault is more effective.
As President, I take the responsibility of providing a safe learning and living environment on campus very seriously, and so do our colleagues. For that reason, we have initiated significant changes over the past 18 months to create a culture that promotes student health and safety and demands respect for all members of our community. These changes also include an overhaul of our compliance with federal regulations under Title IX and Title IV.
As you may know, we have done much work these past months. We designed and implemented a mandatory online tutorial about sexual assault for all students. We are working on a similar short course for all UM employees. We hired an additional police officer, who focuses on personal safety and campus community-building among students. We updated policies and procedures and anticipate more changes to come. We will engage three top-notch experts to help us with training and education about sexual assault and sexual harassment.
As noted by the Department of Justice today, the University has fully cooperated and collaborated with the investigations to provide UM with a model campus climate that provides a safe and healthy learning setting and respects all students' rights to obtain a quality education. Not only are we moving toward full compliance, but we are also doing the right thing by ensuring respectful and thoughtful approaches to address allegations of sexual harassment and assault. You may see the DOJ announcement online here: http://www.justice.gov/crt/opa/pr/speeches/2013/crt-speech-130509.html.
I am pleased to see the end of this period of investigation and collaboration with the DOJ, and I look forward to working on the solutions UM already has implemented and on additional actions that we need to take.
I’d like to express my appreciation to the many people on campus who have been open to the changes that we have already made and to the faculty, staff, students and administrators who spent countless hours working on programs that have made this campus a better place to live and to learn.
Personally, I want this University to emerge as an institution that recognized a problem and came out as a national leader in addressing that problem. We are on our way.
Royce C. Engstrom
The University of Montana