January 2, 2007
On August 3, 2006, your status at the university was changed from that of Interim Suspension to Administrative Leave of Absence. I am writing to tell you that you may return to Duke in good standing for the 2007 spring semester.
As circumstances have evolved in this extraordinary case, we have attempted to balance recognition of the gravity of legal charges with the presumption of your innocence. Now with the approach of a new term, we believe that circumstances warrant that we strike this balance differently. At this point, continued extension of the administrative leave would do unwarranted harm to your educational progress. For these reasons, Dean Thompson and I, with the support of President Brodhead, have decided to lift the Administrative Leave. Your status may be revisited upon final resolution of the criminal charges.
Dean Rasmussen will serve as your undergraduate dean and will work with you to develop an academic plan for your remaining course choices and requirements. We recognize that your housing options will be of concern to you and will work with you to identify appropriate residential options either on or off campus, as you would prefer.
Reade, it is my sincere hope that you will choose to return for the spring semester. Please let me know how I may support you during this time.
Larry Moneta, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs
“We feel that this is a very important moment,” Finnerty’s lawyer Wade Smith said. “This announcement speaks to Duke’s integrity as an institution, to its mission, and to its belief in Collin Finnerty’s innocence.”“By now it should be plain to any person who has any objectivity that the charges against Reade are transparently false,” the Seligmann family said in a statement Wednesday."
"The symbolism of this move cannot be missed: with the decision, the Duke administration is formally saying that the presumption of innocence no longer can be ignored and strongly implying--through its deeds--that no one in the upper levels at Duke any longer believes in the credibility of Mike Nifong's allegations. Coupled with Brodhead's repeated demands that Nifong recuse himself, this act signals a dramatic, and welcome, shift by the administration on the case, and a statement that from here on out, Brodhead will stand on behalf of due process."
"Duke officials have offered to reinstate Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann for the spring semester, President Richard Brodhead confirmed Wednesday afternoon."The decision, which could allow the two to graduate with their class and make them eligible for the upcoming lacrosse season, comes nearly two weeks after Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong dropped charges of rape against all three indicted members of the 2005-2006 men's lacrosse team."We have decided that the right and fair thing to do is to welcome back Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty to resume their studies at Duke for the spring semester," Brodhead said in a statement. "Although the students still face serious charges and larger issues require Duke's collective attention, the circumstances in this case have changed substantially, and it is appropriate that the students have an opportunity to continue their education.""In a memo to Brodhead Jan. 2, Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, said that although the charges against the two are still unresolved and very serious, the "totality of circumstances" has changed in such a way that the University now feels the two should have the chance to resume as students in good standing."Finnerty's father, Kevin Finnerty, told The Chronicle Wednesday afternoon that Collin had been reinstated and that Collin and his family will not make a final decision on Duke's offer until all charges have been dropped.
"We are hopeful for successful resolution to these charges ASAP so Collin can move on with his life academically and athletically," Kevin Finnerty wrote in an e-mail. "We need to focus all of our attention to attain the right [innocent] outcome to these false accusations.""Moneta, who called Finnerty to announce the University's decision, said that he believes Finnerty is now leaning toward returning to campus for the spring semester.Seligmann was not immediately available to speak about whether or not he will return. Moneta said Seligmann and his family were still tyring to weigh the consquences and implications of returning."There would be no question as to their eligibility," said Chris Kennedy, senior associate director of athletics."
Update: Statement from Brodhead
“We have decided that the right and fair thing to do is to welcome back Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty to resume their studies at Duke for the spring semester. Although the students still face serious charges and larger issues require Duke’s collective attention, the circumstances in this case have changed substantially, and it is appropriate that the students have an opportunity to continue their education.”
Update: Moneta Memo to Brodhead
“In response to your question about what is appropriate regarding the status of Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, after consulting with Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Robert Thompson and Provost Peter Lange, I recommend that these students should now be allowed to return to Duke and continue their education. While the legal situation they face is not yet resolved and the students still face serious charges, the totality of circumstances has changed in a way that makes it appropriate for us to remove the barriers to their returning and resuming their student careers.
“In the practice of Duke and many other universities, students are typically separated from the university when they are charged with behaviors involving violence. This interim suspension is imposed in recognition of the risks to the community and to the students themselves if they were allowed to remain. Interim suspension is not a disciplinary measure or judgment of guilt. Rather, it is a way to deal with the interim before such charges are resolved.
“Our two students were placed on interim suspension when they were indicted last spring. In late summer, Duke modified the suspension to an administrative leave, which allowed the students to continue to make academic progress while not present at the university. Both have completed their coursework from last spring and are currently in good academic standing.
“Our measures to date have attempted to fit a wise and prudent general policy to the facts of an extraordinary case. As circumstances have evolved, we have attempted to balance recognition of the gravity of legal charges with the presumption of innocence, and concern for the well-being of the community with the students’ needs to continue their education. As we approach a new term, I believe that the circumstances warrant that we strike this balance at a different point.
“As you noted in your statement on December 22, circumstances have clearly changed. At this point, further extension of the students’ leaves would do unwarranted harm to their educational progress. For this reason, I recommend that the administrative leave be lifted and they be allowed to re-enroll for the spring term.
“Needless to say, the students would remain subject to further disciplinary action should they be found criminally responsible for any of the charges pending.
“Vice Provost Thompson has discussed this proposed change with Dean Michele Rasmussen, who helped craft the new administrative leave policy, and she is supportive of this change in their status. Dean Rasmussen would remain the academic dean for these students through the re-entry process.”