- Michigan State University will establish a $500 million fund to support settlements for students victimized by former university doctor Larry Nassar.
- The fund will award $425 million to current claimants and will set aside $75 million for future complaints brought against the university, stemming from more than 300 women who accused Nassar of assault against them over several years.
- The settlement, which is independent of claims brought against outside entities like USA Gymnastics and individuals not associated with the university, will not require plaintiffs to sign non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements as a condition of receiving a payment.
The historic nature of the settlement details shows a commitment from the institution to current and future stakeholders of making even small steps to repair trust in its brand. The difference in defending or covering up versus acknowledging wrongdoing is a major element in brand management in higher education and is too often viewed through the prism of short-term financial cost instead of long-term losses in enrollment, philanthropy and corporate partnerships.
At a more campus-based level, schools can learn that sexual harassment and assault awareness must go beyond public messaging to demonstrate non-tolerance; surveys and audits of students and faculty may become part of the annual review process for students to show proactive efforts to find and eliminate sexual harassment.