Jackie Cannon ’20
The College of the Holy Cross will be moving forward with an independent investigation, announced Rev. Philip L. Boroughs S.J., president, on Wednesday, October 30, in an address to the campus community in the Hogan Ballroom.
Several minutes into his thirteen-minute address, after reflecting on recent allegations and the concerns they have raised among the Holy Cross community, Boroughs stated, “I fully embrace a comprehensive investigation that will answer these questions. Of course, there are many details that we need to figure out with regards to the investigation, but I hear you and I agree with you that the investigation must be thorough and impartial, and that the investigator must be laser-focused on finding the truth.”
Fr. Boroughs shared that he has already met with Speaker of the Faculty, Miles Cahill, and Chair of the Academic Governance Council (AGC) ad hoc Committee on Faculty Sexual Misconduct, Vickie Langhor. Elaborating on the process, Fr. Boroughs communicated that “a small committee of faculty and administrators will work together to develop recommendations on the goals and the focus of the investigation, the process of choosing an investigator, and how to communicate findings.”
The group will be coordinated by William Phelan ’73, Chair of the Audit Committee of the Board, with Professors Cahill and Langhor assisting in developing the process for selecting three faculty members, and Fr. Boroughs choosing three administrators for the group in the near future.
Responding to Fr. Boroughs’s announcement, Professor Cahill shared with the Spire, “I welcome the President’s commitment to support an inquiry with the goal of understanding why abuse has been prevalent on our campus for so long so we can learn from our past and move forward in the future. As Speaker of the Faculty, I am committed to a transparent process that engages with the faculty to make sure that any inquiry will serve the community’s shared goal to restore trust.”
Additionally, this group “will be provided with experienced, outside legal counsel to help them understand the legal landscape where it is applicable,” said Boroughs. Fr. Boroughs and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Richard Patterson, would use the recommendations the selected group makes to establish the next steps for the investigation itself.
In regards to the investigation, Professor Cahill reflected, “In the near future, it will also be critical to engage the community to specify the elements of an inquiry that are essential for it to be successful, and for it to be a process that empowers survivors and does not re-victimize them. I am grateful to the survivors, witnesses, and other members of the commutty who are working hard to help the college we love is worthy of our mission.”
Fr. Boroughs’s most recent address was originally scheduled as a result of the allegations made by alumna Jaime McCallister-Grande ’99 that she reported a professor’s possible misconduct to her class dean at the time, current Provost and Dean of the College Margaret Freije, and that she felt Freije did not take the appropriate actions to address McAllister-Grande’s concerns.
In his Oct. 20 message to the campus community, which was the second response to these allegations, Boroughs shared that he was open to considering an independent investigation. Two days later, on Tuesday, Oct. 22, the Faculty Assembly voted to support a motion to request Fr. Boroughs hire such an independent investigator. The ad hoc Committee, who presented the motion, portrayed the vote not as a lack of confidence in the administration, but as an opportunity to move forward and rebuild trust as a community. Fr. Boroughs echoed these sentiments in his Oct. 30 address.
In the conclusion of his address, Fr. Boroughs spoke primarily to the faculty, and how they could help the Holy Cross community move forward: “The world around us is getting increasingly angry, divisive, distrusting, irrational, and cynical. I know that we are better than that, and our students need to see in us models of reflectivity, encouragement, excitement about the questions we encourage, and the ability to disagree respectfully. I know that we are capable of this, and I trust that you do as well.”