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President to President

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President to President
Molly Corbett Broad's weekly email newsletter to higher education leaders.

President Creates Sexual Assault Task Force

Jan. 20-24, 2014 ~ Vol. 15, No. 3

  • President Creates Task Force on Campus Sexual Assault
  • Aneesh Chopra, Doris Kearns Goodwin to Speak at ACE’s Annual Meeting
  • Please Respond to Inside Higher Ed’s 2014 Survey of College and University Presidents

While winter weather slowed down work in the capital this week, I do have some items to bring to your attention. First, just a brief note to tune in Tuesday, Jan. 28, to President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address. Education usually features prominently in his plans for the coming year (see a brief overview of his speeches from 2011, 2012 and 2013), and we expect that trend to continue, likely with a focus on his proposal to rate colleges.

On Wednesday, the president announced the formation of a White House Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault, vowing to work with colleges and universities on strategies to keep students safe and help “put those plans into practice.”

According to a White House memorandum, the task force has 90 days to provide the president with recommendations regarding effective policies, prevention and response efforts, federal transparency requirements, and coordination among agencies such as Education, Justice and Health and Human Services, all of which can play roles in campus assault investigations. Within a year, the task force is to report to the president on implementation efforts.

In recent years, the issue of sexual assault has become an area of increased federal scrutiny, leading to new directives impacting policies at colleges and universities. Although more than two years have passed since the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights issued its April 4, 2011, “Dear Colleague” letter on sexual violence, many campuses are still working to comply with the letter’s complex requirements and respond appropriately in what are often difficult situations. TheCampus Sexual Violence Elimination (Campus SaVE) Act, a provision of the recently passed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), has only added to the already significant body of regulations and guidance with which institutions must comply. The first of three negotiated rulemaking sessions on VAWA began last week and concludes April 1.

We fully support every effort to keep students safe and our campuses have already devoted considerable resources to prevent incidents of sexual assault. However, we welcome new and constructive ideas and hope this task force will provide results that are both effective and workable. We will certainly keep you apprised of any progress in this area.

I am pleased to inform you that Aneesh Chopra, the first U.S. Chief Technology Officer, will be speaking at ACE’s 96th Annual Meeting, March 8-11, in San Diego. Chopra joins Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin as featured speakers recently confirmed for the meeting.

Chopra’s Monday, March 10, luncheon plenary session will focus on ways technology can spur innovation, strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world and solve the problems facing higher education today. Chopra served as the United States’ first Chief Technology Officer under President Obama from 2009-12, tasked with promoting innovation, transparency and collaboration within the federal government, and is currently the co-founder and executive vice president of Hunch Analytics.

Goodwin has written several biographies of U.S. presidents, including Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, which is the basis for the Academy Award-winning film Lincoln. She will discuss her books, her perspectives on American presidencies and leadership lessons during the March 10, 8 a.m. plenary session, which will be moderated by ACE Senior Vice President Terry Hartle. Goodwin will sign copies of her most recent book, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, following the plenary session.

I look forward to seeing you all in San Diego. For information on the Annual Meeting and to register, click here.

Finally this week, I would like to encourage your participation in Inside Higher Ed’s 2014 Survey of College and University Presidents, the results of which will be unveiled in March at our Annual Meeting.

You should be receiving emails from Gallup (on behalf of Doug Lederman and Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed) concerning their survey, which is designed to gauge how campus chief executives see their institutions faring right now and how they are dealing with some of the key issues they are facing. The survey has been sent via e-mail to more than 2,800 campus presidents of public, private and for-profit institutions. Some of you have already completed the online questionnaire as the early response rate has been good. But Scott and Doug are eager to have large numbers of presidents complete the survey so that they can accurately profile each higher education sector.

Please check your in box for messages with the subject line: Inside Higher Ed Survey of Presidents. If you haven't received these emails, please contact Doug at, and he can make sure Gallup adds you to the list.

Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE