An outside counsel hired by Harvard University to investigate covert searches of instructors’ e-mails by college administrators found that all of the searches “were undertaken in good faith,” while revealing for the first time that about 14,000 e-mail accounts were searched for contact with a Boston Globe reporter.
Attorney Michael B. Keating, however, found that no administrators read any of the e-mails unearthed in the searches.
Keating’s report, released by the university Monday, describes in far more detail than previously known the efforts Harvard officials undertook last fall to determine how information about a massive student cheating scandal was leaked to the news media.
While Harvard officials have apologized and acknowledged some mistakes, such as failing to notify instructors that their e-mails were being searched, administrators believed they were following internal policies at the time, Keating concluded. One policy posted on a Harvard website indicated that the instructors should have been notified, but Keating found that few people at Harvard — and no lawyers in the general counsel’s office — knew it existed.
“Hopefully, it will never happen again,” William F. Lee, a member of the Harvard Corporation, said in an interview. Keating delivered his findings to the corporation, Harvard’s governing board, and Lee said that the report was made public in its entirety.
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