Conducting Effective Internal Investigations

Conducting effective internal investigations is crucial to ensuring compliance with the many laws, regulations, and other obligations facing today’s institutions of higher education. The circumstances that prompt an investigation arise in many contexts, including student misconduct, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, academic or research misconduct, financial improprieties, and more. No matter the context, when properly conducted, an internal investigation can help an institution to identify risks and remedy potential issues.

Join instructors Katherine Allen, Natasha Baker and Pamela Heatlie as they lead this four-module online course, designed to teach participants how to conduct effective internal investigations from start to finish.

The course features access to:

  • Four modules (pre-recorded webinars, self-assessments, and extensive resources)
  • Two interactive, live online forums with the course instructors that were held in the spring and fall of 2023. These forums were recorded and are available for viewing in the course platform along with the four modules.

Course Schedule

Planning the Investigation

  • Types of Investigations
  • Value of Good Investigative Practices
  • Pre-investigation Considerations
  • Choosing an Investigator
  • Confidentiality vs. Transparency
  • Receiving and Evaluating the Complaint 
  • Notice
  • Interim Measures 
  • Developing an Investigative Strategy or Plan
  • Public Relations Considerations

Conducting the Investigation, Interviewing, and Information Gathering

  • Interviews: Logistics, Who to Interview, and How to Interview Effectively
  • Participation by Parties and Witnesses
  • Amnesty
  • Required Disclosures - Garrity Rights
  • Conducting the Interview - Tips for Good Questioning
  • Post-Interview Considerations
  • Interviewing High-Level Employees and Police

Reaching a Conclusion and Credibility Determinations

  • Corroborating Evidence
  • Direct and Circumstantial Evidence
  • Other Types of Evidence
  • Weight of Evidence
  • Inconsistencies
  • Plausibility
  • Motives
  • Demeanor of Parties and Witnesses
  • Effects of Trauma

Writing the Report and Post-Investigation Considerations

  • Key components of a report (recommended)
  • Style/audience/tone
  • Disclosure of the report
  • Best practices for document retention and use of the attorney-client privilege
  • Notifications
  • Final Decision
  • Post-Decision Considerations
  • Appeals
  • Consultation with In-House Counsel

Live Forums


Monday, October 16, 2023, 1:00-2:15 p.m. ET

This forum, which is supplemental to the course, will cover content addressed in Modules 1 - 2.

  • Opportunity for Q&A with course instructors
  • Unable to attend live? The recording is available on the course platform for all registrants

    Note Regarding Conducting Effective Internal Investigations Online Course: This course was designed to provide comprehensive instruction on how to conduct effective internal investigations from start to finish and is applicable to many different types of internal investigations that may arise in a higher education setting. The course was not designed to address the specific training requirements of the Department of Education’s May 2020 Title IX regulations. Accordingly, course participants do not have NACUA’s permission to publicly post any course content. This prohibition on posting content includes posting pursuant to 34 C.F.R. § 106.45(B)(1)(iii) of the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Title IX regulations addressing sexual harassment.


Katherine Allen


Katherine M. Allen is Associate General Counsel at the Pennsylvania State University, focusing on faculty and employment issues, including research misconduct investigations. Prior to joining the Office of General Counsel, Katherine represented ...

Natasha Baker

Natasha Baker Headshot

Natasha Baker is the Managing Attorney of Novus Law Firm in California. She focuses on higher education law, with an emphasis on student affairs, governance, accreditation, mergers and labor and employment law.  She regularly advises and trains institutions of ...

Pamela Heatlie 

Pam Heatlie

Pamela Heatlie is the Director of the Office for Institutional Equity at the University of Michigan - Dearborn.  She previously served as an Associate Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs, Senior Director of the Office for Institutional Equity and Title IX Coordinator at the...

About Online Courses

NACUA's online courses give participants in-depth coverage of important issues in the practice of higher education law. Each course features webinars that enable participants to ask questions to...

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Frequently Asked Questions

This eight-week course contains narrated PowerPoint presentations (like pre-recorded virtual seminars), self-assessment quizzes, and reading assignments. In addition, this course...