Erickson outlines progress in implementation of Freeh recommendations
HERSHEY, Pa. -- Penn State President Rodney Erickson updated the University’s Board of Trustees Friday (March 16) on progress made in implementing five preliminary recommendations made by Judge Louis Freeh, a former FBI director and federal judge who is leading the University's independent external investigation into child abuse allegations against retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The recommendations, released in January, are designed to improve University structures and protocols involved in the identification and reporting of crimes related to child sexual abuse.
The full results of the ongoing investigation, which is examining all aspects of the University's actions related to the Sandusky case, are expected later this year. The board asked Freeh to identify areas of University policy and procedures that can be strengthened in the interim.
"As I have said in the past, we will continue to provide whatever resources, access and information are needed to support Judge Freeh's investigation," Erickson said. "These preliminary recommendations have provided us with a strong set of first steps to enhance safety for everyone, and especially children, who visit the University. We are committed to the full implementation of Judge Freeh's recommendations and are continuing our work toward that end."
Erickson said work is under way to implement Freeh's preliminary recommendations on all five fronts, including:
Strengthening policies and programs involving minors
- More clear, specific guidance will be provided to staff and others who interact with children, including enhanced background checks and abuse-awareness training.
- A thorough review of University Policy AD39, which deals with minors involved in University-sponsored programs or programs held at the University, is well under way, Erickson said.
Prompt reporting of abuse and sexual misconduct
- The University community will continue to receive, at regular intervals, updates and notices to underscore the importance of reporting misconduct and identifying ways to report. This initiative includes enhanced visibility of the ethics hotline run by Penn State's Office of Internal Audit.
Compliance with the training and reporting requirements of the Clery Act
- A new, full-time Clery Compliance Coordinator soon will join the Office of University Police and Public Safety at Penn State, Erickson said, and outside experts will provide Clery Act training.
- Job descriptions and search committees are being finalized in preparation for the search for a director of University compliance, a new position that will carry with it the responsibility to coordinate and oversee the vast array of compliance issues throughout the University.
- A reexamination of the board's oversight responsibilities is continuing, including work to define the functions of the Subcommittee on Audit, which will interact directly with the University's compliance officer for a more coordinated and complete response to all compliance matters.
Athletic department security arrangements
- Erickson said the compliance office in Intercollegiate Athletics will add an additional staff person.
- Procedures are being developed to ensure that keys, access cards and all other University property is retrieved immediately from all individuals who are not formally associated with Penn State.
"We're pursuing several additional initiatives to address Judge Freeh's recommendations, and we'll keep you and the University community informed as details emerge," Erickson said.The updates, Erickson said, will continue as part of his pledge to lead with openness and better communication, part of the five promises he made when he was named University president in November.