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Fired Michigan provost stripped of tenure following sexual misconduct allegations

martin philbert
University of Michigan School of Public Health

Martin Philbert, the former provost of the University of Michigan who was fired following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, has "voluntarily relinquished" his faculty position and no longer receive tenure, the University announced Wednesday.

Philbert was initially put on paid leave back in January, when the University says it first became aware of the allegations. A spokesperson declined to provide further information about the nature or number of allegations.

Critics say the school should have taken action sooner, however, pointing to a 2004 wrongful termination lawsuit filed against Philbert and the University. In the suit, a former employee accuses Philbert of having an inappropriate relationship with a female researcher. The University settled the suit for nearly $200,000, according to Kim Kozlowski of the Detroit News. According to David Jesse of the Detroit Free Press,the allegations against Philbert didn't come as a surprise to some:

He also was known for 'overtures' or making sexually charged comments that went over the line, those sources said. Many women just ignored them, let them slide because of their relationship with Philbert or felt if they reported, they would be retaliated against, those sources told the Free Press."

Philbert, who was previously dean of the School of Public Health before becoming provost in 2017, was firedfrom his executive position in March and banned from campus. But he continued to hold a faculty position and received a salary. As provost, Philbert made $570,340 a year, according to the school’s 2019 salary disclosure report

The University also hired an outside firm to conduct an investigation. Rick Fitzgerald, the school’s Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs, says that investigation is still ongoing, and will be made public when it’s done.

Note: this story has been corrected to clarify that Philbert voluntarily retired and gave up tenure. The original version said he'd been "removed." A University spokesperson asked Michigan Radio to clarify that Philbert voluntarily retired and relinquished tenure in a letter to President Mark Schlissel. This comes after Philbert was fired from his job as provost, banned from campus, and is the subject of an ongoing investigation.   

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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