The consulting firm Guidepost Solutions will work with campus leaders, faculty and key staff to help develop a “statement of shared values, ethics and standards” for the University of Michigan, and look for ways to improve the university’s whistleblower and anti-retaliation policies.
President Mark Schlissel made the announcement Feb. 18 while updating the university community on the work of Guidepost Solutions, which U-M hired to help implement the recommendations from the report on the misconduct of former provost Martin Philbert. Schlissel’s remarks came at the start of a virtual Board of Regents meeting.
Schlissel said the development of a statement of shared values, ethics and standards is one step in “our comprehensive work to prevent and address sexual and gender-based misconduct and create an environment and culture where everyone in our community feels safe” and respected.
The president said the Guidepost team also has been asked to examine the university’s whistleblower and anti-retaliation policies to look for ways they could be improved. That review is underway. He said that everyone in the U-M community should be able to “report misconduct without fear of retaliation and (know) that reports will be acted upon appropriately.”
He also said that with advice from Guidepost, the university is working to develop a new “relationships in the workplace” policy, and that the university has implemented and is exploring additional ways to more rigorously vet candidates for leadership positions.
Schlissel said the Board of Regents “strongly supports these efforts and has been directly involved in oversight.”
“It will be critical that we remain focused on creating a culture where reports will be heard, where action is taken and there is no fear of retaliation. In short — a culture where sexual misconduct is not tolerated,” said Denise Ilitch, chair of the Board of Regents.
Additionally, Schlissel said, “Together these initiatives will set the foundation for our collective work to create an environment of mutual respect and accountability that is free of retaliation, where everyone can feel safe to report misconduct.”
Guidepost Solutions was hired in December to help the university implement the recommendations made in the report from the WilmerHale law firm, which was hired to investigate the misconduct allegations made against the former provost. Guidepost is expected to continue its work with the campus community through the end of the year.
Schlissel said the university’s engagement with Guidepost Solutions is being layered on top of “the ongoing efforts we have launched to create broad and positive culture change, including our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative; Michigan Medicine’s priority to ‘promote a positive, cohesive culture that aligns with our values’; and the work of the universitywide Ethics, Integrity and Compliance Committee.”
The university also is in the midst of collecting community feedback on the university’s interim umbrella policy for addressing sexual and gender-based misconduct. This includes scheduled feedback sessions, a dedicated email address and a survey that will remain open through March 15. A working group is focused on putting a final policy into effect by July 1.
Schlissel concluded his remarks by thanking everyone in the community “who has engaged in our ongoing work to prevent and better address sexual misconduct.”