University of Utah
Lauren McCluskey

University of Utah agrees to pay $13.5 million to family of murdered student

Oct. 22, 2020
Lauren McCluskey, 21, was shot to death in October 2018 outside a campus residence hall.

Acknowledging that the 2018 on-campus murder of track star Lauren McCluskey was “preventable,” the University of Utah has agreed to pay $13.5 million to her parents in a legal settlement.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the agreement settles two civil rights lawsuits that argued the university could have done more to keep McCluskey safe after she repeatedly went to campus police in the weeks before she was killed.

At a news conference, University President Ruth Watkins said she was “sincerely sorry” for McCluskey's death.

“The university acknowledges and deeply regrets that it did not handle Lauren’s case as it should have,” she read from a statement, “and that, at the time, its employees failed to fully understand and respond appropriately to Lauren’s situation.”

Her comments Thursday contrast with her insistence shortly after the murder that there wasn’t “any reason to believe this tragedy could have been prevented.”

McCluskey, 21, of Pullman, Wash., described by the university as "a highly regarded member of the university’s track and field team and an outstanding scholar," was found fatally wounded on Oct. 22, 2018, in a parked car near the south tower of the Medical Plaza, a residential hall on campus.

An investigation found that McCluskey was being harassed by a man she had briefly dated, but when she went to authorities, her concerns were not taken seriously.

Jill and Matt McCluskey, Lauren's parents, had asked for an admission of responsibility from the university.

The university will pay $10.5 million to the parents — coming from its insurance provider — with an additional $3 million going to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation, which the parents have set up to improve safety on campuses across the nation.

Sponsored Recommendations

Providing solutions that help creativity, collaboration, and communication.

Discover why we’re a one-stop shop for all things education. See how ODP Business Solutions can help empower your students, school, and district to succeed by supporting healthier...

Building Futures: Transforming K–12 Learning Environments for Tomorrow's Leaders

Discover how ODP Business Solutions® Workspace Interiors partnered with a pioneering school system, overcoming supply chain challenges to furnish 18 new K–12 campuses across 4...

How to design flexible learning spaces that teachers love and use

Unlock the potential of flexible learning spaces with expert guidance from school districts and educational furniture providers. Discover how to seamlessly integrate adaptive ...

Blurring the Lines in Education Design: K–12 to Higher Ed to Corporate America

Discover the seamless integration of educational and corporate design principles, shaping tomorrow's leaders from kindergarten to boardroom. Explore innovative classroom layouts...