Provost Martin Philbert placed on leave after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct

Wednesday, January 22, 2020 - 3:19pm

University Provost Martin Philbert was placed on administrative leave for allegations of sexual misconduct.

University Provost Martin Philbert was placed on administrative leave for allegations of sexual misconduct. Buy this photo
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Martin A. Philbert, University of Michigan provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, has been placed on leave effective Jan. 21 due to multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, according to an email from President Mark Schlissel sent to students Wednesday afternoon.

According to the email, the University received the allegations last Thursday and Friday and began an internal investigation Friday. After a three-day investigation involving an outside law firm and the Division of Public Safety and Security, Schlissel wrote he placed Philbert on administrative leave Tuesday.

“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 wrote.

As provost, Philbert serves as the chief academic officer and budgetary officer for the University’s Ann Arbor campus. His purview includes promoting the University’s academic, teaching and research endeavors.

Because the Office for Institutional Equity reports to the provost, Schlissel wrote OIE’s reporting line for matters regarding Philbert’s investigation will be handled by Richard S. Holcomb, associate vice president for human resources.

“The U-M Board of Regents and I are 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,” Schlissel wrote. “It remains early in the investigation, and no findings or conclusions have been reached.”

Following the email, Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., wrote in a tweet that the University is quickly stepping up to investigate allegations against Philbert.

“Everyone deserves due process and a thorough investigation,” Dingell wrote. “It is still difficult for survivors to come forward in situations like these, and we need recognize their bravery and courage.”

University Regent Jordan Acker (D) also wrote in a tweet that he believes the investigation into the allegations must be transparent.

“Today is a sad day for the University,” Acker wrote. “I am angry and deeply empathetic to the survivors, and am committed to ensure that it never occurs on our campus again.”

Central Student Government President Ben Gerstein, Public Policy junior, and Vice President Evie Winter, LSA junior, wrote in a statement that they share with students a need to build a supportive campus climate.

"Yesterday's news is shocking, distrubing, and painful," Gerstein and Winter wrote. "We stand in solidarity with members of our community who are survivors of, or impacted by, sexual misconduct and assault. Further, we share the urgency widely expressed by students to foster an enviroment that empowers survivors and enhances awareness. It is our collective responsibility to affirm that sexual misconduct will never be tolerated on our campus or within our community."

Philbert was approved as provost in June 2017 and assumed the position in September 2017. Previously, he served as dean of the School of Public Health.

In October 2019, Philbert met with the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs to recommend amendments to policies on the dismissal of tenured faculty following the firing of Music, Theater & Dance professor David Daniels for allegations of sexual misconduct.

“We have to be very careful and thoughtful, and quickly amend the bylaws to protect tenure and to protect our faculty and to protect society from the bad behavior that is frequently in the headlines,” Philbert said at the meeting.

This is a developing story. Check back at michigandaily.com for more updates.