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The University of Michigan plans to hire outside experts to assist in sexual misconduct investigations and advise the University in responding to claims, according to a statement from the Board of Regents released Monday.
The experts’ names and firms are not yet known. University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald directed The Daily to the Board’s announcement when asked for more details.
In the statement, the Board said hiring these experts will allow the University to more effectively address sexual misconduct allegations, especially after WilmerHale, the outside firm hired to address the allegations against Philbert, found that former Provost Martin Philbert committed acts of sexual misconduct over a 15-year period. The report also noted that the University’s administration received information about Philbert’s behavior during this time.
“That outside perspective will put the university in the best position to live up to the high standards our community expects and deserves,” the statement reads. “This will be a collaborative effort of the board working closely with the president and the administration, engaging with our community and focusing on policy, culture and people. As our president said in his message last week, our highest priority is to make our community safe for all.”
WilmerHale began its investigation in January 2020 shortly after Philbert was placed on leave following sexual misconduct allegations against him. Philbert was removed from his role as provost in March.
The Board recognized the role the University played in upholding Philbert’s position as one of the University’s top administrators amid these allegations.
“The sexual misconduct behavior of the former university provost detailed in the WilmerHale report is abhorrent and unacceptable,” the statement reads. “We, as a university, failed on many levels, as this individual advanced through the administrative ranks.”
In an email to the University on Aug. 3, University President Mark Schlissel responded to the WilmerHale report, saying the University “failed to properly and effectively address earlier reports of Philbert’s misconduct despite our often-stated values.”
“The university has fallen far short of creating a culture that rejects harassment and misconduct and ensures that no one in our community fears retaliation for reporting,” Schlissel wrote. “What kept coming through to me was how many people were badly hurt by Philbert’s behavior, but also how afraid they were about coming forward.”
The Board will provide more information on the outside experts and their role at their next meeting on Sept. 17.
Daily News Editor Liat Weinstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.