Martin Philbert removed from provost role over sexual misconduct allegations

Wednesday, March 11, 2020 - 10:43am

Martin Philbert has been removed from his position as provost following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.

Martin Philbert has been removed from his position as provost following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. Buy this photo
Danyel Tharakan/Daily

University of Michigan Provost Martin A. Philbert has been removed from his position as one of the University’s top officials, according to a statement from the University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald. Philbert had been on paid administrative leave since Jan. 21 following multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. 

The statement says University President Mark Schlissel informed Philbert of his termination in a letter on Wednesday. 

“Martin A. Philbert has been removed as executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Michigan,” the statement reads. “In a letter dated March 11, President Mark Schlissel informed Philbert that he had lost confidence in his ability to serve as provost based on information that has come to light so far in an investigation regarding his behavior.”

 

More than 20 women have brought forward sexual misconduct claims against the former provost. In 2009, an anonymous woman reported that Philbert had sexually harassed her.

 

Thomas Komorowski, a former research associate for the University who worked in Philbert’s lab at the School of Public Health in 2003, claimed in a 2004 lawsuit he was wrongfully terminated due to an inappropriate relationship between Philbert and a female researcher. Philbert denied that Komorowski was laid off due to his relationship with the female researcher and claimed Komorowski’s grant aid had run out.

 

The University retained an outside firm to investigate Philbert, a process that is still ongoing, according to the statement. 

 

“Once it is complete, a determination will be made whether Philbert will be subject to proceedings to remove him from his faculty role,” the statement reads. “Meanwhile, Philbert will remain on paid administrative leave from his duties as a tenured faculty member.”

 

Philbert is now on paid administrative leave from his position as a tenured professor of toxicology in the School of Public Health. As Public Health Dean, Philbert earned $463,696 in 2016.

In the statement, Schlissel said the investigation is still underway, with resources provided to those affected.

“As the investigation continues, we encourage anyone with information to come forward and we encourage anyone affected by this issue to use the confidential counseling resources we have set up,” Schlissel said.  

As provost, Philbert was the highest-ranking University administrator after Schlissel. Philbert earned about $570,000 a year in his position, where he also acted as the top academic officer and chief budgetary officer. 

Susan M. Collins, former dean of the Ford School of Public Policy, was named acting provost in late January. 

Schlissel now plans to recommend Collins serve as interim provost at the Board of Regents meeting on March 26.

Philbert was approved as provost in June 2017, assuming the office in September of that year. Before that, he served as dean of the School of Public Health.

Last fall, Philbert played a role in the formation of a faculty group to consider amending the bylaws regarding the dismissal of tenured faculty. In October 2019, he met with the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs after the firing of Music, Theater & Dance professor David Daniels for allegations of sexual misconduct and discussed amendments to policies governing the removal process.

“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.

Managing News Editor Leah Graham can be reached at leahgra@michigandaily.com. Daily News Editors Barbara Collins and Emma Stein can be reached at bcolli@michigandaily.com and enstein@michigandaily.com.