Wisconsin provost to become first woman to serve as UR president

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The University of Rochester announced Monday it has chosen a new president to lead the school.

University of Wisconsin–Madison provost Sarah Mangelsdorf will become the first woman to serve as UR president.

She will replace Richard Feldman who served as interim president after Joel Seligman stepped down earlier this year in the wake of a sexual harassment lawsuit launched against the university.

Mangelsdorf is also a psychology professor who the college leaders say is “internationally known for her research on the social and emotional development of infants and young children.”

“We were in contact with more than 200 people in developing the pool of possible candidates to find the very best person to be the next president of the University of Rochester. I am thrilled that Sarah Mangelsdorf is that leader. Sarah is super smart, an empowering, compassionate, and kind leader, is expert at managing complexity and overcoming challenges, and will work tirelessly in tandem with our students, faculty, staff, and trustees to make the University of Rochester the best it can be,” said University of Rochester Board Chair Richard Handler.

Mangelsdorf will begin work at the university next summer.

Changes to the sexual harassment policy

At the same time, in response to a report looking into the sexual harassment lawsuit brought against the university over the reported actions of a professor, UR officials are weighing changes to its sexual harassment policy.

In a document on the college’s website, officials say:

“The Committee met over a period of seven months and evaluated a series of potential amendments to the Policy. Committee members relayed and discussed experiences with and concerns about the current Policy and process from their various perspectives within the University, and considered specific potential changes to the Policy. Although the Committee’s discussions were informed by the January 11, 2018 Debevoise & Plimpton Report of the Independent Investigation, the Committee considered topics and questions that were broader than those raised in that report.”

Topics of Discussion and Specific Recommendations

• The Committee considered a separate respectful workplace policy and proposes incorporating reference to our Vision and Values.
• The Committee proposes additional language describing acts that could constitute sexual harassment.  
• The Committee proposes strengthened language to encourage community members to report discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and additional language to clarify when reporting is required. 
• The Committee recommends a revision allowing both the Complainant and the Respondent the option of having a support person present during the investigation. 
• The Committee proposes articulating the standard of proof used in making determinations under Policy 106. 
• The Committee elected not to propose altering the single decision-maker model, but proposes a clarification noting that the decision maker may consult with senior administrative personnel who are required to maintain confidentiality. 
• The Committee proposes significant additional detail to describe potential remedial or corrective measures that could be imposed. 
• The Committee proposes language making clear that the University may impose remedial or corrective measures even if the conduct was not found to violate Policy 106, and making clear that such a determination would be placed in an employee’s personnel file. 
• The Committee proposes specific language regarding confidentiality, which also encompasses whether the result of an investigation would, as a matter of course, be shared beyond the Complainant and the Respondent. 

The Committee considered whether mandating the disclosure of the results of the investigation beyond disclosure to the Complainant and the Respondent, but rejected that approach. However, the Committee felt it important to add additional language making clear that the decision maker may authorize disclosure of limited information related to an investigation if circumstances so require. 

The Conclusion of the Committee’s Work and Charge The Committee will collect feedback regarding its proposed recommendations through an open comment period that will close on January 23, 2019. Comments can be sent to the Committee at Policy_106_Committee@rochester.edu. The Committee’s recommendations and proposed revisions presented to President Feldman at the conclusion of our work will reflect the Committee’s consideration of and deliberation on this feedback. The Committee’s report will also be available to the University community.”

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