Five local colleges are among 55 nationwide being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education for possible mishandling of sexual assault and harassment cases.

Temple University, Pennsylvania State University, Swarthmore, Princeton and Franklin & Marshall College are on the list released by the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday.

The list represents the first "comprehensive look at which campuses are under review" by the department's office of civil rights for possible violations of the Title IX law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. A spate of complaints have emerged on college campuses around the country in recent years as more women are speaking out about sex assault.

"We are making this list available in an effort to bring more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights," Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said in a statement. "We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue. I also want to make it clear that a college or university's appearance on this list and being the subject of a Title IX investigation in no way indicates at this stage that the college or university is violating or has violated the law."

The department declined to release details about the investigations other than when they began. The list comes in the same week that the White House released its initial report on improving the handling of sexual assault on colleges campuses. President Obamaa commissioned a task force earlier this year.

The investigations include both those that were spurred by complaints and through regular reviews by the department. The list will be updated regularly and available upon request, the department said.

Concerns at Swarthmore College emerged last spring, and the college in response hired an outside consultant for an evaluation. Students subsequently filed two complaints alleging that the college violated both Title IX and the Clery Act, which requires colleges to report crime on campus.

In response to a report from its consultant, Swarthmore brought on additional staff, provided training for employees and adopted an interim policy on the handling of sexual assault and harassment complaints.

Earlier this year, the department notified Penn State that it was starting a review there, citing a spike in cases following the 2011 indictment of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on child sex-abuse charges.

"Our initial review of Penn State's sexual harassment policy, compounded by a dramatic increase in the number of forcible sex offenses occurring on campus as reported by the university itself, raised legal concerns that compelled us to investigate," Lhamon said at the time, according to published reports.

It's not clear what prompted the investigation at Temple. Ray Betzner, Temple spokesman confirmed the investigation.

"Temple has fully cooperated with the Office of Civil Rights and looks forward to a resolution of the matter," he said.

Princeton confirmed that the investigation targeting its campus began in 2010.

The university "will continue to cooperate" with the office conducting the probe, spokesman Martin Mbugua said.

An investigation was opened at Franklin & Marshall following a complaint in March, a university spokeswoman said.

"We are cooperating fully with this neutral fact-finding process," said Cass Cliatt, the spokeswoman.

The full list of colleges under investigation nationwide include:

AZ ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY

CA BUTTE-GLEN COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT

CA OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE

CA UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY

CA UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

CO REGIS UNIVERSITY

CO UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT BOULDER

CO UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT DENVER

CO UNIVERSITY OF DENVER

CT UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT

DC CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA

FL FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY

GA EMORY UNIVERSITY

H UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT MANOA

ID UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO

IL KNOX COLLEGE

IL UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

IN INDIANA UNIVERSITY-BLOOMINGTON

IN VINCENNES UNIVERSITY

MA AMHERST COLLEGE

MA BOSTON UNIVERSITY

MA EMERSON COLLEGE

MA HARVARD COLLEGE

MA HARVARD UNIVERSITY - LAW SCHOOL

MA UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS-AMHERST

MD FROSTBURG STATE UNIVERSITY

MI MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

MI UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN-ANN ARBOR

NC GUILFORD COLLEGE

NC UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL

ND MINOT STATE UNIVERSITY

NH DARTMOUTH COLLEGE

NJ PRINCETON UNIVERSITY

NY CUNY HUNTER COLLEGE

NY HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES

NY SARAH LAWRENCE COLLEGE

NY SUNY AT BINGHAMTON

OH DENISON UNIVERSITY

OH OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY

OH WITTENBERG UNIVERSITY

OK OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY

PA CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY

PA FRANKLIN AND MARSHALL COLLEGE

PA PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY

PA SWARTHMORE COLLEGE

PA TEMPLE UNIVERSITY

TN VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY

TX SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY

TX THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS-PAN AMERICAN

VA COLLEGE OF WILLIAM AND MARY

VA UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

WA WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY

WI UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-WHITEWATER

WV BETHANY COLLEGE

WV WEST VIRGINIA SCHOOL OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE