Are Background Checks Needed for All Professors?

Graham Spanier, a former president of Pennsylvania State University, was convicted on March 24, 2017 of one misdemeanor count of child endangerment for covering up allegations made against Jerry Sandusky. Tim Curely, a former athletic director at the university, and Gary Schultz, a former senior vice president, plead guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment charges and testified against Spanier. However, the debate whether Spanier and other officials did enough to stop Sandusky continues.

This case has higher education institutions wondering what they can do to protect themselves from scandal.  Lehigh University has implemented a three step criminal background check policy that consists of state criminal and child abuse histories and a federal criminal history via fingerprints.

Some faculty have expressed concern over the new policy stating that it goes beyond required law and that it violates privacy rights. Institutions are caught in the middle trying to protect personal data of faculty and staff while limiting risk for their constituents and their reputation.