Jackie Cannon ’20
Provost and Dean of the College Margaret Freije has resumed her full duties in these positions following the release of a report by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees on January 27. The investigation, conducted by James A. Keller, of the law firm Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, led the Executive Committee to the conclusion that “the findings of this investigation do not provide evidence of misconduct or compromised judgment by Provost Freije.”
The Executive Committee also shared that when the full Board of Trustees met on Saturday, January 25, they unanimously passed a motion stating, “On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, we express our full and unqualified confidence and support for Provost Freije and very much hope that she will resume her full duties immediately.”
The Executive Committee’s report further shared that Mr. Keller’s investigation was independent, and he was given access to “all information in the College’s possession which he deemed relevant to the issues he was investigating and interviewing individuals of his choosing whom he believed to have relevant information.” The materials in this investigation included 850,000 emails, and “at least 2,000 other documents, including reports, files and text messages,” as well as interviews with almost 40 people.
The investigation, which was prompted by an alumna’s allegations of an inappropriate administrative response to concerns about a professor, notably found that the alumna likely did meet with Provost Freije, who was at the time her class dean. However, the investigation found the words used by the student did not suggest “a more serious degree of misconduct,” and the student requested to remain anonymous at the time. The investigator concluded that, under Holy Cross harassment policy in 1997, Provost Freije’s response of advising the student of her options would have been a “permissible path.”
The Executive Committee concluded this section of the report which focused on that specific incident by writing, “We want to thank this alumna for coming forward. The Executive Committee recognizes the distressing situation that she was in as a student in 1997 and that retelling her story for this purpose was almost certainly painful. We truly appreciate her candid and thorough participation in the investigation.”
An additional facet of the investigation addressed the concern that Provost Freije was aware of rumors of misconduct by the same professor in the 1997 incident. The investigation found that Provost Freije was “more likely than not” unaware of any allegations against this professor until 2017, after an announcement had been made regarding this professor’s promotion to a leadership position at the College but before he assumed the new position. According to the investigation, Provost Freije reported these allegations to the Title IX office, but was advised to allow these concerns to be investigated before any interim measures, which would have been decided on by the Title IX Office, should be taken.
Following the conclusion of the investigation, Mr. Keller wrote a confidential report that will be shared with faculty on a “privileged basis” requiring faculty to keep the contents of the report confidential.
Concluding the letter, the Executive Committee wrote, “We consider this matter fully investigated and now closed, and hope that the healing process will continue for all in our community.”