Over the past year the members of your department have shown an extraordinary level of commitment to strengthening the University’s ability to address and prevent harassment and discrimination, and to ensuring our community is a place where everyone has the opportunity do their best work. Your diligent and thoughtful work has been much appreciated and also a welcome addition to our ongoing dialogue as we continue to strive for a Harvard that is free of harassment and discrimination. I hope that your efforts will continue, as the recommendations and ideas your discussions have generated will certainly have an influence on the practices put in place by your department and other departments across the University.
In your April 30, 2019 final report and recommendations, you ask that the administration “invite a credible outside expert (or experts) to evaluate how departmental, FAS, and university-wide procedures, practices, and norms may have contributed to our collective failure to provide a safe and productive work environment for all members of our community.” As you know, I have said that the University would consider undertaking this type of external review once the investigation against Jorge Dominguez was concluded. With that now being the case, as of today, I want to share with you that the University will initiate an external review. With the Dominguez situation as a guide, the review will be focused on the three central questions included in your April 30 report:
- What characteristics of our organization or culture might have inhibited (or more generally inhibit) those who have experienced (or who are aware of) misconduct from reporting it?
- When misconduct is reported, are there impediments to an effective response?
- How can the University ensure that promotional decisions are made with a proper understanding of reports or allegations of misconduct?
This external review will be informed by the findings of the now complete Office for Dispute Resolution investigation, but it will not be a review of that investigation itself. And, in the coming weeks, I plan to share with you further updates on the external review, as the University determines who will lead it and additional definition of its scope.
Thank you again for your efforts toward making Harvard an environment in which all members of our community can thrive. We look forward to continuing to work with you on these matters going forward.
All the best,
Lawrence S. Bacow