Temple’s task force created in July to analyze potential implications of Judge Louis Freeh’s independent report on Pennsylvania State University’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal is set to deliver its report soon. No specific time frame was provided.
The task force, which was announced by Acting President Richard Englert on July 17, five days after the Freeh report was released, was tasked with reviewing the report, identifying implications for Temple and reporting its findings and recommendations to the president, Board of Trustees and University Counsel, according to an email sent to the university by Englert.
“The recently-released independent report by Judge Louis Freeh addressed a number of important matters,” Englert said in the email. “I believe every university should take Judge Freeh’s report as an opportunity to review its own policies and procedures.”
The task force was chaired by JoAnne Epps, dean of Beasley School of Law, who said that its assignment was not specific – which allowed it to look at various issues and policies throughout the university.
“Our assignment was relatively broad-based. The thought was, ‘What ought we, as an institution, be thinking of, and checking into and ensuring to make sure that we’re doing the best we can do in a wide range of issues?’” Epps said.
The Freeh report, an independent report published by the law firm Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, came in the wake of the Sandusky sex-abuse scandal at Penn State that prompted the resignation of then–President Graham Spanier and the firing of one of the most storied coaches in the history of college football, Joe Paterno. Sandusky was convicted on June 22, of 45 counts of sex-abuse of the 48 charges against him. The scathing report accused Penn State’s top officials of allowing Sandusky’s acts to go unpunished.
“Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State,” Freeh said in a statement during the release of the report. “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”
Temple’s task force was given the opportunity to make recommendations before the report was delivered. Epps said that one recommendation was made concerning the university’s overnight guest policy with respect to non-matriculated minors.
While Epps couldn’t confirm that the change was in effect from the task force’s recommendation, University Housing and Residential Life did alter the overnight guest policy to state that minors who are not Temple students, cannot be in university residence halls between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m.
Epps is joined by nine other university administrators on the task force as well as three others who staff it. Although no entity from outside Temple was a part of the task force, Epps said the group wasn’t blurred by just including Temple administrators in it.
“I think that I could say with confidence that for what our assignment was, we weren’t hindered by all working at Temple University because what we were asked to do and what we did do was say, ‘What does this mean for us?’” Epps said. “We weren’t asked to make conclusions about ultimate changes or approvals. We were asked what the report meant for us.”
Englert’s email announcing the formation of the task force stated that it would be delivered by Sept. 15, but Epps said that it is currently being finalized and will be delivered when those involved are able to match schedules.
“We are finalizing the report and it’ll be delivered soon and precise timing is really just a logistical [issue],” Epps said.
While the task force was sparked by the scandal at Penn State, Epps said that nonetheless, the evaluation of Temple is a healthy practice for the university as a whole.
“I think that periodic self-evaluation is good for every human, every couple and every institution. It’s always sad when it’s precipitated by a series of unfortunate events – such was the case that generated the Freeh report,” Epps said. “But I think to the extent it prompted us or other institutions to pause for a moment and ask whether we are doing as well as we can in a wide range of areas. That’s always a good thing.”
Sean Carlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SeanCarlin84.