April 6, 2018
Dear Brandeis Community,
Yesterday I shared with you the news that we had terminated men’s head basketball coach Brian Meehan. Today, many of you have likely read in the media the very disturbing story describing incidents that are abhorrent and unacceptable. They do not reflect the values we embrace and aspire to as a university; in fact, they are a contradiction to virtually everything Brandeis has stood for since our founding as a haven for inclusion and tolerance.
Equally disturbing to me was reading about the students’ frustrations as they worked to address these issues; they found our processes moved slowly and opaquely, and ultimately inadequately. Anyone accused of committing an offense on this campus — student, faculty, or staff member — is entitled to a fair investigation and due process. This can take time. In this case, the process did not work the way it should have for the students who filed complaints. This cannot and should not happen again.
Therefore, we are taking the immediate step of retaining two well-respected independent counsels who have substantial experience and credibility to conduct an independent de novo investigation of our policies and procedures in this case, in any other cases that may have similar shortcomings, and more generally. Former assistant United States attorney for the District of Massachusetts Walter Prince, partner in the Boston law firm Prince Lobel, will lead the investigation. Mr. Prince will be joined by the Hon. R. Malcolm Graham, a retired associate justice on the Massachusetts Appeals Court, currently a neutral at JAMS (the largest private alternative dispute resolution provider in the world). They will be charged with reviewing our systems, climate, and culture of handling complaints, and will recommend actions and changes, including those related to personnel. Our campus community deserves a thorough and objective look at what occurred here, and we will use this information to make improvements.
Lynne Dempsey, athletic director, is now on administrative leave while the investigation is conducted. Jim Zotz, our former longtime swimming and diving coach, and assistant athletic director, will serve as acting athletic director.
While we do not have answers to all the questions that our community may have, I want to be sure we provide a forum in which we can discuss what we can, and talk about our path forward. I want to hear your thoughts; there is a clear need for our community to begin the process of open and honest conversation. Toward this end, we will hold a community-wide town meeting on Monday, April 9, at 4:00 p.m.in the Levin Ballroom.
Finally, I want to apologize on behalf of the university to the students who brought the complaints forward, to any other students who may have been harmed and didn’t come forward, and to our entire community. We have a responsibility to provide everyone with a safe environment. We must and will do better. These issues strike at the heart and soul of what Brandeis represents, and we will work with integrity and great intentionality to make things right.