University Response to Robert Hadden

Dear Colleagues,

Over the last weeks, I have heard from many members of our community who are disappointed and angered by the past institutional failures that permitted Robert Hadden’s appalling abuse of patients to go unrecognized for so many years. There is also a strongly held view that we must do more to support the courageous survivors of his abuse and exploitation, a view that we share. The University failed these survivors, and for that we are deeply sorry. Today, President Shafik and I are sharing with you a series of important actions Columbia will take to repair the harm that has been done and to ensure we are fulfilling the high ideals of the University and the medical profession.

Today we announced that notice will be provided to former patients who may be unaware of Hadden’s criminal conviction and incarceration. No survivor of his abuse should mistakenly believe they are alone in their struggle. We have created a new survivors’ settlement fund and retained an experienced, trauma-informed administrator, Simone Lelchuk, to oversee that fund.

We also announced that Joan Loughnane, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP who previously served in a variety of leadership positions in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, will lead an external investigation. We have asked Ms. Loughnane to determine what allowed Hadden’s misconduct to continue for so long—and to make recommendations to ensure we have the policies and procedures in place to prevent this from ever happening again. Survivors and our Columbia community deserve a full and transparent accounting of these events, and the report will be made public. Ms. Loughnane has set up a voicemail box at 212-839-6000 and an email at where you can provide your contact information, and she or members of her team will reach out to you promptly. She will protect the identity of patients who experienced abuse to the maximum extent permitted by law.

As we redouble our commitment to patient safety and quality of care, our faculty practice is undertaking a series of new initiatives, overseen by Jim McKiernan, CEO of ColumbiaDoctors, and the ColumbiaDoctors board. In the near term, we are expanding channels for patients and staff to report physician misconduct and investing in chaperone training and other safety systems in partnership with NYP. We will soon be sharing more information about several additional key steps including:

  • working with outside experts to provide transparent assessments of our patient quality and safety programs and procedures;
  • investing in predictive analytics for identifying high-risk behavior by faculty and staff, so that timely intervention can prevent harm from occurring; and
  • creating a new Center for Patient Safety Science to conduct the research that will define the future of quality and patient safety at Columbia and across the country.

We are heartbroken by this tragic situation. Earning our patients’ trust is paramount to all we do. We are profoundly sorry for the pain that Hadden’s patients suffered and regret the impact our handling of this matter has had on survivors and on our entire community. The fact that the steps outlined in today’s announcement were not taken before need not deter or distract us. Our responsibility is to do the right thing today and in the future. Resources and support for survivors and a fuller description of Columbia’s actions can be found at More information will be shared about our progress very soon.


Katrina Armstrong, MD
Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences, Columbia University