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U.S. Department of Education’s Clery Act Program Review

Liberty University’s Response

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.

Letter from the President

As part of the Liberty University family, I wanted to make sure you heard the most recent developments concerning the U.S. Department of Education’s (“Department”) Clery Act Program Review directly from me. Transparency and communication are important, and we wished we could have updated you sooner; however, due to our ongoing and confidential discussions with the Department, we had to wait until we reached a formal resolution. We are grateful to be able to share an update with you after a two-year process.

Today, Liberty University and the Department have entered into a final settlement agreement. On this page you’ll find our public statement regarding the details of the settlement, as well as a link to an FAQ page.

While Liberty has not always agreed with its treatment by the Department, we concur that numerous compliance deficiencies existed in the past. Examples include incorrect statistical reports as well as necessary timely warnings and emergency notifications that were not sent properly. We acknowledge and sincerely regret these errors and have since corrected them in a manner that allows us to maintain compliance in each of these areas.

Today is a new day at Liberty University. We remain committed to prioritizing the safety and security of our students and staff without exception. To reinforce this commitment, we have created the Office of University Compliance, which oversees Title IX and Clery compliance. This department is staffed with experienced and designated personnel who have been professionally trained and have a wealth of experience in Title IX, social services, and law enforcement coupled with devoted care for our student body. We now have a model Clery program for compliance and are clear about our priorities. We continue to stand by and affirm our Liberty Amnesty Policy, which ensures that anyone involved in the Title IX process can share their experiences without fear of disciplinary action for Liberty Way violations. We have made a significant effort to educate our campus community about this policy and will continue to do so through various educational efforts.

As you may well know, Liberty has taken the initiative to invest more than $10 million in significant advancements on campus since 2022. This investment has been made in areas such as our infrastructure, security assets, and surveillance equipment. In addition, we utilized numerous information resources and committed over 45,000 hours of training to employees who have reporting responsibilities related to Title IX and Clery compliance across Liberty’s entire campus. Even as we have made many improvements, there are still more to come as we continue to work in cooperation with the Department to prioritize safety and to advocate for a fair, consistent, and principled standard of Clery compliance.

Most importantly, as family, we want you to be proud of Liberty’s future. To that end, we ask that you feel empowered to share with us any recommendations as we continue to improve our campus. Additionally, we ask you to pray for our campus body, which includes the administration, staff, professors, and students, as we move forward together as one university committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We thank you for making Liberty University a better place, and we look forward to seeing what God has in store for the days ahead. The best is yet to come!

Dondi E. Costin, Ph.D.

Public Announcement of Clery Enhancements, Resources, and Changes









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