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Harvard Acted in ‘Good Faith’ on Secret E-Mail Searches, Report Says

A lawyer hired by Harvard University to review its secret searches of the e-mail accounts of resident deans in an effort to find the source of a leak to the news media has concluded that the searches were conducted “in good faith,” according to The Boston Globe.

The university on Monday released a report on the findings of Michael B. Keating, the lawyer it had hired to conduct the review. In authorizing the searches, Harvard officials were trying to find out how information about a high-profile cheating scandal had made its way to the news media. The searches sparked anger and conversation about policies on campuses around the country. After Harvard officials admitted to authorizing the searches, Evelynn M. Hammonds stepped down from her post as dean of Harvard College.

Mr. Keating’s report concluded that no administrators had read e-mails from the searches, which focused on e-mail subject lines, according to the Globe.

Harvard’s president, Drew Gilpin Faust, said in a written statement that the report confirmed her assumptions that the searches had been conducted in good faith and that the university’s policies regarding e-mail privacy were “insufficient, poorly understood, and variably implemented.” She added that the report’s findings had deepened her “substantial concerns” about failures of policy and execution.

A separate committee is considering recommendations for how Harvard might change its policies. The panel is expected to conclude its work later this year, the Globe reported.

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