Webinar Series

Higher Education Symposium

Goodwin is pleased to invite you to our 2021 Higher Education Symposium, a three-part webinar series created specifically to address issues faced by trustees, officers and in-house counsel at colleges, universities and research institutions. This virtual event consists of various sessions led by in-house counsel at higher education institutions and industry experts.


October 19, 2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT | 1 CLE Credit (CA, NY)

Artificial intelligence, or “AI” technology, continues to increase its presence in higher education, whether in administration or even in the classroom. However, while this dynamic technology can benefit schools and students in a number of ways, what are the privacy implications of expanding the use of AI in education? Join our panelists as they discuss the prevalence of AI in education and examine current privacy concerns related to expanding the innovative uses of AI. While sharing use cases of AI in education, our panelists will explore the potential pitfalls of using AI in the classroom and offer solutions on how to best reconcile the risks of AI so educational institutions can maximize the benefits.


  • Molly Grammel, Partner, Goodwin
  • Jacqueline Klosek, Partner, Goodwin
  • Latanya Sweeney, Ph.D., Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government and Technology, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Amelia Vance, Vice President of Youth and Education Privacy, Future of Privacy Forum


October 20, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT  | 1 CLE Credit (CA, NY)

Whether threats related to COVID-19, athletic scandals, student protests, controversial investigations of faculty, or other challenges, it is essential that colleges and universities have a coordinated cross-functional crisis management plan for whenever major reputational risks arise. A common criticism of crisis response is that the institution reacted too slowly and the incident was not taken seriously until it became public. In this interactive webinar, our panelists will discuss strategies and best practices for institutions and their trustees as they consider a full range of crisis events and issues.


  • Jennifer Chunias, Partner, Goodwin
  • Brackett Denniston, Chair of the Board of Kenyon College and Sr. Counsel, Goodwin
  • Gus Coldebella, Vice Chair of the Board, Colgate University and Partner, True Ventures


October 21, 2021 | 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT | 1 CLE Credit (CA, NY)

Keeping up with fast-paced, ever-changing labor and employment law has always been critical for higher education institutions, and the global COVID-19 pandemic makes this year’s update more important than ever. Our panelists will summarize and discuss the employment aspects of mandatory vaccinations, reasonable accommodations, confidentiality and related employment considerations.

  • Christina Lewis, Partner, Goodwin
  • Beth LeFante, Assistant General Counsel, Northeastern University
  • Richard Uchida, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Colby College

2021 Seminar series

Thursday, November 12 | 11:00am - 12:00pm ET

The higher education community has been dramatically impacted by the global pandemic. From rapid pivots online in March, to excruciatingly detailed plans for Fall, to responses to changing conditions on the ground, COVID-19 has brought decision making in uncertain times to the forefront. As a key leader in the integrated higher education response to COVID-19 in Massachusetts, President Leshin provided unique perspectives in this webinar on managing initial and ongoing risks, and a look forward to a landscape significantly changed by COVID-19.

Keynote Speaker: Laurie Leshin, Ph.D., President, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Thursday, November 5 | 11:00am - 12:00pm ET

Endowments are often a critical source of funding for colleges and universities. This panel discussed the current state of endowment investing, including how endowment managers are addressing the disruptions brought about by COVID-19; how the crisis has altered investment sourcing, due diligence, execution and management, and liquidity; and how long-term strategies may be affected.


  • Thomas LaFond, Partner, Goodwin
  • Heather Huff, Chief Operating Officer, Dartmouth College Investment Office
  • Erica Nourjian, Head of Operations, Brown University Investment Office
  • Brad Wakeman, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, Williams College

Thursday, October 29 | 11:00am - 12:00pm ET

The federal False Claims Act (FCA) has long been a powerful tool for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate and police activity financed with federal dollars. Recent years have seen high-profile FCA enforcement actions against higher education institutions receiving federal funds for a variety of purposes, including research grants and financial aid programs. The risk of FCA scrutiny is further heightened for institutions receiving Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds. This webinar discussed the recent enforcement developments and ways that institutions can mitigate risk.


  • Annie Railton, Partner, Goodwin
  • Alicyn Cooley, Executive Director, Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement, New York University School of Law
  • Courtney Orazio, Associate, Goodwin
  • Jeff Seo, Assistant Vice-Provost for Research Compliance, Northeastern University

Thursday, October 22 | 11:00am - 12:00pm ET

Keeping up with fast-paced, ever-changing labor and employment law has always been critical for higher education institutions, and the COVID-19 pandemic makes this year’s update more important than ever. Our panelists summarized and discussed the employment aspects of Title IX, recent developments relating to union organizing and collective bargaining, the beginning of job-protected leave under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, developments under the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act, and COVID-19-related issues under OSHA.


  • Christina Lewis, Partner, Goodwin
  • Lili Palacios-Baldwin, Deputy General Counsel for Labor, Employment and Litigation, Tufts University
  • Scott Merrill, Office of the General Counsel / Human Resource Management, Northeastern University

Thursday, October 15 | 11:00am - 12:00pm ET

Higher education institutions today must navigate an ever-increasing array of regulatory burdens and government enforcement realities. The decentralized structure of many universities also makes compliance planning, as well as internal investigations into alleged breakdowns, particularly challenging. Our panelists discussed key areas of focus for higher education internal investigations, including allegations of faculty and executive conflicts of interest, research misconduct, and undue foreign influence, as well as export, trade sanctions, and immigration compliance in the COVID-19 era. They also explored unique aspects of higher education, the various constituencies that may have an interest in the outcome, and how these factors impact internal investigations, particularly in a largely remote environment.


  • Jennifer Chunias, Partner, Goodwin
  • Bradley Abruzzi, University Attorney, Office of the General Counsel, Harvard University
  • Ellen Berkman, University Attorney, Office of the General Counsel, Harvard University
  • Keri Godin, Senior Director, Office of Research Integrity, Brown University

Thursday, October 8 | 11:00am - 12:00pm ET

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, colleges and universities in the United States have brought students back to campus both in person and virtually. What challenges have they overcome and what obstacles lie ahead? This virus has changed the way students live and learn and the way higher education systems will operate – financially, legally and otherwise – for decades to come. Or has it? Our panelists addressed these topics and more including the Fall 2020 return to class, the decision and planning process with the President and the Board, and the effects of COVID-19 on various aspects of campus life, including operations, student housing, student aid and governance in this time of crisis.


  • Roberto Braceras, Partner, Goodwin
  • David Bunis, Senior VP and General Counsel, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Gerry Leone, General Counsel, University of Massachusetts

Past events

Registration and Breakfast | 8:00am-8:30am


8:30am-9:30am | Mergers and Acquisitions in Higher Education

This panel will discuss the issues and challenges of mergers and acquisitions in the higher education space. The topics will include diligence exercises, regulatory oversight and approvals, dealing with debt, employment issues, etc.


  • Rich Doherty – President, Association of Independent Colleges & Universities in Massachusetts (AICUM)
  • Bruce Figueroa – National Leader, Nonprofit Banking, People’s United Bank
  • Erika Geetter – General Counsel, Boston University
  • Jonathan Green – Deputy Chief, Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
  • Mat Sibble – Partner, Goodwin


9:45am-10:30am | GDPR and Privacy/Cybersecurity Update

This panel will discuss the latest privacy and cybersecurity developments that every institution of higher education needs to be aware of. We expect a lively and interactive discussion with a focus on GDPR and trends in cybersecurity.


  • David Kantrowitz – Counsel, Goodwin
  • Karen Neuman – Partner, Goodwin


10:45am-11:30am | The False Claims Act in the Context of Research Misconduct Investigations

This panel will focus on the False Claims Act and the intersection of the False Claims Act with research misconduct investigations. Can a university be liable under the False Claims Act based on the research misconduct of one of its faculty or non-faculty researchers? What is the scope of potential exposure? Should a university self-report to the government possible false claims that become apparent in the course of a research misconduct investigation?


  • Jason Baletsa – Counsel, MIT’s Office of the General Counsel
  • Ellen Berkman – University Attorney, Harvard’s Office of the General Counsel
  • Heather Quay – University Attorney and Administrative Coordinator, Harvard’s Office of the General Counsel


The Equity Imperative: Why Massachusetts Must Close Racial & Geographical Opportunity Gaps in Higher Education

Who gets the benefits of a college degree in Massachusetts? The latest data from the Department of Higher Education shows a gap of 43 percentage points in the degree attainment rates of white females and Latino males. Such inequities are not only a matter of social justice, argues the state’s Higher Education Commissioner, Carlos E. Santiago, but they are also an economic concern, given demographic changes that pose enrollment challenges for institutions and hiring challenges for high-skilled industries. In this year’s Higher Education Symposium, Santiago will outline the action plan for closing gaps that spell trouble for a state whose economic fortunes depend on a large and reliable supply of college graduates.

NOVEMBER 7, 2018

8:00am-8:30am | Registration & Breakfast

8:30-9:30am | Transparency and Accountability: Pressures Facing Schools Today

Our distinguished panelists will share their thoughts on the mounting pressure on colleges and universities to be transparent, and the increasing scrutiny applied to their decisions and actions.

  • Mark C. DiVincenzo – Vice President and General Counsel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Christine Hughes – Vice President and General Counsel, Emerson College
  • Lisa A. Sinclair – Associate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Northeastern University

9:30-9:45am | Networking Break

9:45-10:30am | Breakout Sessions 1+2

Labor and Employment Hot Topics for 2018

This session will review current issues in labor and employment law affecting higher education institutions. These include addressing sexual harassment claims involving faculty members and other employees, accommodating faculty members’ and other employees’ needs for disability-related leaves of absence, compliance with and self-evaluations under the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act and union organizing by faculty members and graduate students.

  • Allison K. Romantz, Counsel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Robert M. Hale, Partner, Goodwin
  • Sustainability Initiatives on a College Campus – Roadmap for Success

Williams College has set an ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2020 and has taken a unique approach in achieving this goal. From investing in renewable energy projects, to developing its own standards for the investment in carbon offset assets, to developing its own unique framework for building certification, and developing a tool for assisting architects and designers in developing energy conscious facilities, the College feels it has developed a roadmap that may be replicated. The College will discuss what it has learned, what it is currently working on, and the issues it has faced in moving this important issue forward on its campus.

  • Amy Johns, Director, Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives, Williams College
  • Matthew Sheehy, Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration, Williams College
  • Bruce Tribush, Partner, Goodwin

10:30-10:45am | Networking Break

10:45-11:30am | Breakout Sessions 3+4

Addressing Student Suicide Risks After Nguyen

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s 2018 decision in Nguyen v. Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced a new test for determining whether colleges and universities owe a legal duty to address a student’s suicide risk, and provided guidance as to the scope of the standard of care. The panel will discuss the Nguyen test, how it relates to tests previously adopted by other states’ courts, and measures institutes of higher education might implement to satisfy the Nguyen standard of care. Panelist Kevin Martin, co-chair of Goodwin’s Appellate Litigation practice, argued the case at the SJC, and panelist Jay Wilcoxson is Counsel at MIT.

  • Jaren Wilcoxson, Counsel, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Kevin Martin, Partner, Goodwin

Tax Reform of 2017: Updates and Trends

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 resulted in significant changes for many institutions of higher education, including taxes on excess executive compensation, certain severance arrangements, the net investment income of highly endowed colleges and universities, and certain fringe benefits, as well as new rules requiring “siloing” of unrelated business taxable income. We will review key pieces of the legislation, the status of IRS guidance, and planning tips.

  • Sue Abbott, Partner + Chair of Higher Education Practice, Goodwin
  • Natascha George, Partner, Goodwin
  • Brett Good, Associate, Goodwin

11:30-11:45am | Networking Break

11:45am-1:00 pm | Luncheon and Keynote Presentation

Many Hats, Multiple Opportunities: General Counsel in Higher Education.

We are delighted to present Ralph Martin, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Northeastern University, as our keynote speaker.

APRIL 13, 2017

8:00am-8:30am | Breakfast & Registration

8:30am-9:30am | Moving on from In Loco Parentis: The Relationships Between Today’s Schools and Their Students

Our distinguished panel will discuss the relationships between a school and its students in today’s society. Although in loco parentis (the doctrine that a school takes the place of a student’s parents) is generally no longer accepted, colleges and universities still play an important role in their students’ lives. Our panelists will discuss current trends in the roles and expectations of schools, particularly in the areas of trigger warnings and safe spaces, freedom of speech on campus, and immigration issues in light of the recent executive order and other changes to immigration policies.


  • Yvonne Chan, Partner, Goodwin
  • Deirdre Heatwole, General Counsel, University of Massachusetts
  • Steven Locke, General Counsel, Brandeis University
  • Jay Wilcoxson, Counsel, MIT

9:30-10:30am | Recent Developments in 403(b) Plan Excessive Fee Litigation

In 2016, a dozen lawsuits were filed challenging the fees and investment options of retirement plans offered to the employees of several top universities. This panel will discuss the plaintiff and defense theories and recent developments in these litigations, as well as the risk of additional lawsuits.


  • Jamie Fleckner, Chair, ERISA Litigation Practice, Goodwin
  • Alison Douglass, Partner, Goodwin

10:30-10:45am | Networking Break

10:45-11:45am | Privacy and Cybersecurity Trends in 2017

Privacy and cybersecurity continue to be among the top issues facing higher education institutions today. From the impact of the new administration on cybersecurity obligations and enforcement, to breaches and ransomware, our panel will address the unique risks and current trends impacting the privacy landscape, including:

  • The business impact of recent changes to the EU privacy law framework on U.S. organizations, including the Privacy Shield and General Data Protection Regulation
  • How data driven organizations can prepare for and respond to law enforcement requests for personally identifiable information
  • Cyberinsurance
  • Board liability and preparedness


  • Mark Nardone, Chief Information Security Officer, Northeastern University
  • Karen Neuman, Partner, Goodwin
  • Brenda Sharton, Chair, Privacy + Cybersecurity and Business Litigation practices, Goodwin
  • Barbara Healy Smith, Assistant General Counsel, Northeastern University

11:45am-1:00pm | Luncheon & Keynote Presentation

David Greene, President of Colby College, gave a dynamic and inspiring presentation on his experience leading revitalization efforts in Waterville, ME, and on the south side of Chicago, through his roles at Colby College and University of Chicago respectively.

APRIL 7, 2016

8:00am-8:30am | Breakfast & Registration

8:30am-9:00am | Welcome Remarks: Susan L. Abbott, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP

8:30am-9:30am General Session | Campus Safety Issues


  • Yvonne W. Chan, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP
  • Deirdre Heatwole, General Counsel, University of Massachusetts
  • Chad Higgins, Counsel, Goodwin Procter LLP
  • Jay Perault, Deputy Chief of Police, MIT
  • James Terhune, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Colby College

9:45am-10:30am | Breakout Sessions

International Operations


  • Martin T. Biegelman, Director, Regulatory, Forensics & Compliance, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP
  • Christopher C. Land, Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Larry Plutko, Founder and President, L.A. Plutko and Associates, LLC
  • Bruce Tribush, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP

Negotiating, Accepting and Modifying Restricted Charitable Gifts


  • Susan L. Abbott, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP
  • Debra DeVaughn, Director of Gift Planning, Wellesley College
  • Nancy Keller-Go, Senior Vice President - Estates and Special Investments, Harvard Management Company

10:30am-10:45am | Networking Break

10:45am-11:30am | Breakout Sessions

Selected Wage and Hour Issues


  • Robert M. Hale, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP
  • Brian Kelly, Associate, Goodwin Procter LLP
  • Kathleen B. Rogers, Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary of the Board, Simmons College

False Claims Act and Whistleblower Risks and Defenses


  • Roberto M. Braceras, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP
  • Ellen Fels Berkman, University Attorney, Office of the General Counsel, Harvard University
  • Michael Little, Senior Manager, Deloitte Advisory – Regulatory, Forensics and Compliance, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP
  • Christy Talley, Associate Vice President for Compliance Services and Associate General Counsel, Boston University

11:45am-1:00pm | Luncheon & Keynote Presentation: How a Small College Plays in the Big League: Using Unorthodox Tools for Growth and Brand Expansion 

Helen Drinan, President, Simmons College | Introduced by Regina M. Pisa, Partner and Chairman Emeritus, Goodwin Procter LLP

1:00pm | Closing Comments

APRIL 2, 2015

8:00am-8:30am | Breakfast & Registration

8:30am-9:30am General Session | Expanding the Boundaries of Online Education


  • Rob Cohen, President and Chief Operating Officer, 2U
  • Suzanne Murphy, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives and Simmons Online, Simmons College Kathy Pugh, Vice President of Education Services, edX Inc.
  • Mat Sibble, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP

9:45am-10:30am | Breakout Sessions

Sexual Assault Investigations and Title IX Compliance


  • Yvonne W. Chan, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP
  • Steven S. Locke, General Counsel, Brandeis University
  • Alicia Oeser, Director for the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention & Response, Harvard University
  • Sarah Rankin, Institute Title IX Coordinator, MIT

Best Practices for Technology Commercialization – Building a Self-Sustaining Program


  • Susan L. Abbott, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP
  • Lita L. Nelsen, Director, Technology Licensing Office, MIT
  • Christopher W. Stamos, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP

10:30am-10:45am | Networking Break

10:45am-11:30am | Breakout Sessions

Tenure and the Law: Minimizing Liability Risks, Managing Within the Tenure System and Modifying the System


  • Robert M. Hale, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP
  • Joseph M. Herlihy, General Counsel, Boston College

Endowment Risk Management: Emerging Trends and Key Considerations


  • Martin Carmichael, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP
  • David Hohmann, Director of Administration and Risk, Tufts University Investment Office Michael D. Saarinen, Counsel, Goodwin Procter LLP

11:45am-1:00pm | Luncheon & Keynote Presentation

The University as a Driver of Innovation and Economic Development

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Susan Hockfield, President Emerita and Professor of Neuroscience, MIT

1:00pm-1:45pm | General Session

The University as a Regulatory Minefield: Squaring National Security with Intellectual Freedom


  • Kevin Licciardi, University Counsel, Princeton University
  • Richard L. Matheny, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP