Dear Emma Willard Community,
At Emma Willard School, we are committed to proactively addressing issues of sexual assault/abuse and have long emphasized student safety as our number one priority. Any action that harms the health and wellbeing of our students, or members of our community is contrary to our institutional mission and values and has no place at Emma Willard. This is an enduring focus of our 200-plus-year history.
You may have seen recent media accounts regarding sexual assault on school campuses, including at some of our peer schools in New England. Recent research confirms that sexual assault and abuse are far too prevalent in our society, and that many incidents go unreported by victims for long periods of time. That is the sobering fact of the world in which we live. Emma Willard is not immune to this behavior, and I am saddened to share that we have learned about historical allegations of abuse involving Emma Willard students. We have treated these reports seriously and with an earnest intent to understand how the abuse occurred, how it has impacted the individuals who reached out to us, and how we can learn from past experiences to better protect current and future students. We are following our established protocols ( find here ); as such, we have reported these allegations to the local authorities and have sought the assistance of external child abuse experts to guide us in sensitive and informed fact gathering. These investigations, conducted by external experts with our full cooperation, will help us determine appropriate actions and reinforce our ability to protect our students.   Most importantly, we are acknowledging the harm that has been caused by former Emma Willard employees, and offer our deepest apologies to those young women who were impacted by the immoral and illegal actions of those who would abuse the trust placed in them by Emma Willard School.
Our ongoing work enhances previous and continuing efforts, such as rigorous background checks and screening during the hiring process, the requirement of all new hires to complete training on recognizing and preventing sexual misconduct, and classes/seminars delivered to our entire community year round through Health and Wellness initiatives. While we believe that our current practices are consistent with state law and national best practices, we always seek opportunities to improve. To that end, we continue to consult with The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) and the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) to discuss evolving and effective practices. We are committed to constant evaluation of our programming and creating new opportunities for the community to engage in meaningful dialogue around education, awareness and prevention. We can learn from each other and, together, create a safe living and learning environment for our students.
Emma Willard School is dedicated to being a leader in female advocacy surrounding sexual assault, as we have been female advocates since our school opened its doors. We recognize that choosing to come forward to report inappropriate behaviors is an intensely personal decision and may require great courage, particularly from a child. Accordingly, our education and training programs empower Emma girls to speak up and teach our staff to identify and report concerns about abuse or boundary violations. Consistent with our moral and legal obligations, we will share reports of suspected abuse with law enforcement and child protection agencies, and will fully support and respect the privacy of those individuals who choose to come forward. Students, faculty, staff and alumnae are encouraged to reach out to me or other adults in the school if they ever have concerns. Alternatively, our community members can contact local law enforcement or independent legal counsel at Pepper Hamilton, a law firm with expertise in investigating child abuse (Leslie Gomez, 215-981-4522,, or Gina Smith, 215-981-4490, Collectively, we can all play a role in protecting our community.
Emma Willard provides a safe, nurturing environment and we remain true to our mission of fostering in each young woman a love of learning, the habits of an intellectual life, and the character, moral strength, and qualities of leadership to serve and shape her world. We will not veer from this mission. I am confident that our community will come together in the way that it does best, with the trademark sense of purpose, pride and sensitivity that has served us well in the past and will be the foundation for our future.
Dr. Susan R. Groesbeck
Head of School, Interim
285 Pawling Avenue
Troy, NY 12180