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Liberty University and Department of Education finalize Clery Program Review

Today, Liberty University and the U.S. Department of Education (“Department”) have finalized the Clery Act Program Review and entered into a settlement agreement in the amount of $14 million that marks the end of an unprecedented and arduous process that has been ongoing since February 2022. Liberty is firmly committed to Clery Act compliance and the safety and security of our students and staff without exception.

The Department’s Clery Act Program Review covered more than seven years and is, by far, the most extensive review period of any higher education institution in the Department’s history of published reviews. Many of the Department’s methodologies, findings, and calculations in the report were drastically different from their historic treatment of other universities. Liberty disagrees with this unfair treatment. Nevertheless, the university was able to negotiate a final settlement and outline the terms of the Department’s two-year post-monitoring process in a collaborative manner.

Liberty University initiated an unprecedented negotiation to spend an additional $2 million of university funds, earmarked for new campus safety improvements. The university insisted that the additional funds be a condition of the settlement to be used for the benefit of our Liberty community rather than being sent to Washington, D.C. The focus of the additional investments will be on compliance and campus safety initiatives to ensure strong and sustainable Title IX and Clery Act programs. This first-of-its-kind settlement will be added to the more than $10 million that Liberty University has spent on significant advancements since 2022.

While the university maintains that we have repeatedly endured selective and unfair treatment by the Department, the university also concurs there were numerous deficiencies that existed in the past. We acknowledge and regret these past failures and have taken these necessary improvements seriously. Examples of shortcomings include incorrect statistical reports as well as required timely warnings and emergency notifications that were not sent. We have since addressed these errors through corrective measures, educational programming, changed policies and procedures, enhanced governance, increased expert staffing, additional investment in facilities, equipment, and software, and our renewed focus on student safety with our Title IX office being placed in the heart of the campus.

Additionally, the university has been able to leverage technology and process changes to assist with the timeliness and transparency of our response to crimes to best keep our community informed. Our reporting mechanisms have increased, and the implementation of the Champion Safe mobile app has allowed students, staff, parents, and visitors to have “safety at their fingertips.” We are steadfast in our pledge to focus on continued compliance in this area, and we have implemented strategic changes in leadership to place a stronger emphasis on overarching accountability by establishing the Office of University Compliance that will directly oversee Clery and Title IX governance along with all other areas of university compliance.

It is a new day at Liberty University. We now have a model Clery program for compliance with many campus improvements that will benefit our students and staff for years to come. We will continue to work in cooperation with the Department to prioritize student safety and to advocate for a fair, consistent, and principled standard of Clery compliance that is applied equally to all universities without prejudice.

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