U-M provost placed on leave during investigation


University of Michigan Provost Martin A. Philbert has been placed on administrative leave as an outside law firm hired by the university conducts an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.

President Mark Schlissel announced the action Jan. 22 in an email message to all faculty, staff and students on the Ann Arbor campus. He said he would appoint an acting provost in the coming days.

In his message, the president wrote that, “With the endorsement and full support of the U-M Board of Regents, I have placed (Provost) Philbert on administrative leave, effective Jan. 21, 2020, pending the results of an investigation we began on Friday, Jan. 17.

“We take allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously, and our policy is clear: Sexual misconduct will not be tolerated in the University of Michigan community.”

Schlissel said the university received several allegations of sexual misconduct by Philbert Jan. 16-17 and launched an internal investigation Jan. 17.

“Over the next three days, the university retained an outside law firm which immediately launched an investigation of the allegations, our Division of Public Safety and Security was engaged, and Dr. Philbert was directed not to report to work. I placed him on administrative leave Tuesday,” the president wrote in his message.

Schlissel also said the Office for Institutional Equity, which has been reporting to the provost, will, for this investigation, report to Associate Vice President for Human Resources Richard S. Holcomb.

Philbert, a professor of toxicology in the School of Public Health and a former dean of the school, was appointed provost in 2017. He joined the U-M faculty in 1995.

In his message, Schlissel said he and the Board of Regents were committed to a full and thorough investigation “and we will continue to work to ensure the integrity of the process, following the same policy and practices that apply to all employees at U-M. It remains early in the investigation, and no findings or conclusions have been reached.”

The president also thanked the individuals who have come forward with the allegations. “We know that reporting requires courage. The university has offered support services and will work diligently to assist those who report in every way possible.”


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