Admitting Email Search Errors, Harvard Turns to Boston Lawyer

University President Drew G. Faust acknowledged in an interview Tuesday that administrators do not yet have a complete picture of the sequence of events surrounding secret searches of resident deans’ email accounts, but said she hopes a forthcoming review by esteemed Boston attorney Michael B. Keating will clarify lingering uncertainty.

“It should have been evaluated more carefully,” Faust said. “I think that Michael Keating is going to help straighten out some of the facts surrounding what were the searches, who knew what, and we’ll have a better answer for some of those questions.”

Faust first announced Keating’s investigation at a April 2 faculty meeting where administrators admitted to inaccuracies in their original account of events put forth in a March 11 statement. She said on Tuesday that the original statement contained errors because administrators were under “a lot pressure” to respond quickly to a March 9 Boston Globe story first reporting the searches.

Keating’s review, she said, is intended to “make sure that all the facts that we now understand to be the facts about the searches are indeed accurate and complete, because you’ve obviously seen that we’ve found the record-keeping spotty.”

In their March 11 statement, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith and Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds said that the email searches only queried subject lines and were limited to resident deans’ administrative accounts. At the faculty meeting, they said that neither claim was true. And on Monday, four other College administrators told The Crimson that the administration’s updated account of events contained even more inaccuracies and mischaracterizations. Faust said she was unaware of those additional accusations when she spoke with The Crimson Tuesday, and FAS spokesperson Jeff Neal has declined to comment on the matter.


Amid the opposing narratives, Keating will attempt to set the record straight. Following his review, Keating will report to a newly created subcommittee of the Harvard Corporation, the University’s highest governing body.

Four Corporation members will comprise the special subcommittee: Faust, intellectual property attorney William F. Lee ’72, trial lawyer Theodore V. Wells, Jr., and Tufts University President Emeritus Lawrence S. Bacow. Lee, a former visiting lecturer at the Law School, will serve as the subcommittee’s chair.

In an emailed statement Wednesday, Keating wrote that he met with Faust on Tuesday and was “impressed by the seriousness with which Harvard is approaching the issue.”

Even though Keating will report to that subcommittee, Faust said he adds an external perspective and “doesn’t take our procedures for granted.”

“He understands that universities are special places,” Faust said. “They’re not law firms, or corporations, or governments. And he has just a sterling record as a person of integrity and accomplishment in the legal world here in Boston. So we thought he would give us a judicious and fresh view.”

Renée M. Landers, a former president of the Harvard Board of Overseers and the Boston Bar Association, said it is “very typical in these kind of situations to bring in someone who is outside the organization to bring some credibility to the investigation.”

How exactly Keating’s review will be conducted is unclear. Faust told faculty at the April 2 faculty meeting that Keating would “verify” the information presented that day, but she said Tuesday that the details and timeline have yet to be worked out.

Keating, the leading trial lawyer at Boston-based Foley Hoag, brings almost 50 years of legal experience to the case. He served as president of the Boston Bar Association from 2001-2002 and has been appointed twice as Special Counsel to the Commission on Judicial Conduct of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Margaret H. Marshall, former Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice and former Harvard University General Counsel, said Keating is one of the most highly regarded lawyers in the Massachusetts legal community. Harvard, she added, picked the right man for the job, no matter what that job is.

“Anybody who selects him to advise them on any complex matter is in wise and excellent hands,” Marshall said. “He is a wonderful lawyer, a man of extraordinary integrity and judgment.”


Recommended Articles