Higher Education Symposium


Registration and Breakfast
General Session

Hot Topics in General Counsel Offices

Our distinguished panelists will share their thoughts on the current issues that are foremost in their minds, the challenges that they face on a daily basis, and what keeps them up at night.


  • 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
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.


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


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.


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.


Lunch + Keynote Speaker

We are delighted to present Ralph Martin, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Northeastern University, as our keynote speaker. Ralph will be speaking on “Many hats, multiple opportunities: General Counsel in Higher Education.”