President Papazian's Open Letter to SJSU Campus Community

This letter was sent to the campus community on April 15, 2021.

Dear students, faculty and staff,

The safety and well-being of our community are of paramount importance at SJSU. These are obligations we owe to each and every one of our students. Unfortunately, we have not always lived up to those expectations.  

As many of you know, in December 2019, I requested an external investigation into allegations of misconduct in 2009 by Scott Shaw, SJSU’s former director of sports medicine. Today, I am sharing the results of that investigation with you. The 2009 allegations of improper touching during physical therapy were substantiated, as were more recent allegations raised in the course of the investigation. The investigator concluded that the conduct at issue violated the university’s policies in effect at the time of the conduct. The investigation was conducted by an external attorney investigator and was supervised by the CSU Systemwide Title IX Compliance Officer. The findings are now final. More information about the findings can be found on the SJSU FYI site [pdf]

To the affected student-athletes and their families, I apologize for this breach of trust. I am determined that we will learn from the past and never repeat it. We all need answers to questions about the original 2009 investigation and whether the university properly responded to subsequent concerns about that process. A new investigation, described below, will help us identify issues that must be addressed and improvements that should be made. This new investigation will be conducted by an external investigator and overseen by Systemwide Human Resources in the Chancellor’s Office. We will not, however, wait for that process to conclude before taking action. To that end, we are taking the following steps effective immediately:

Accountability & Facts

  • The new investigation is underway to determine the adequacy of the 2009 investigation and whether the university properly responded to subsequent concerns about that original investigation. I encourage anyone with relevant information to share their concerns with the external investigator, Elizabeth V. McNulty, who can be reached directly at 949-399-5026.
  • Individuals with questions, concerns or reports about any Title IX issues (such as sexual misconduct or other discrimination or harassment based on sex, gender or gender identity) should contact Wendi Liss at 408-924-7289 or Jenny Harper at 408-924-7288 in the Title IX Office or titleix@sjsu.edu.

Policy & Staffing

  • The Athletics Department, in conjunction with the Student Health Center and the Title IX Office, is finalizing a new sports medicine chaperone policy, which will be implemented no later than Fall 2021.
  • We are adding resources to and restructuring the Title IX Office.
  • We are increasing confidential support resources, including a full-time campus survivor advocate, before the start of the fall semester.

Training & Education 

  • We will enhance education and orientation programs focused on sexual assault prevention, reporting options, and resources for survivors, witnesses, and bystanders.
  • Education will be provided to student-athletes, practitioners, and chaperones to ensure all persons involved in medical, physical therapy, and training sessions share a common understanding of what is expected.

Culture & Communication 

  • We are responding to findings related to Title IX from the 2020 Belong@SJSU campus climate survey, geared towards improving awareness of resources, reporting options and empowering our students to come forward.
  • We will initiate an awareness and information campaign to encourage our student-athletes, coaches, and staff in the Department of Athletics to use Spartan Speaks – SJSU Athletics’ anonymous reporting tool.
  • We will provide user-friendly access to information about student rights and resources.
  • We will communicate updates and next steps across campus and throughout the San José State community. 

Accountability, action, and transparency are critical to rebuilding trust in the face of troubling events like these. You have my promise that as we go through this difficult process and move forward together, we will hold ourselves accountable, make necessary changes, and consistently share our progress with the SJSU community.

Mary A. Papazian, Ph.D.
President