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University of Michigan hires consultant after sexual misconduct episode

Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. (Credit: University of Michigan)

ANN ARBOR – The University of Michigan said it hired a consultant to guide changes after the school’s chief academic officer was ousted because of sexual misconduct.

Guidepost Solutions will assist the university in following recommendations by a law firm that said it had uncovered sexual misconduct by Martin Philbert during his long career. He was accused of harassing graduate students and staff and regularly having trysts in campus offices.

The WilmerHale firm made several recommendations, including the need for a campus policy on consensual relationships between staff and disclosure to officials. The July report also said U-M needs to educate students and employees about reporting sexual misconduct.

New York-based Guidepost has served as a safety monitor at General Motors and an appointed monitor of the New York City Housing Authority. It also has addressed sexual misconduct or discrimination matters at other universities.

U-M President Mark Schlissel announced the hiring Thursday.

“We must now begin to create a culture where reports will be heard and action taken without fear of retaliation,” said Denise Ilitch, chair of the Board of Regents.

Philbert spent 25 years at the university, rising from toxicology professor to dean of the School of Public Health and then provost in 2017.

The university is paying $9.25 million to eight women who reported emotional or sexual abuse by Philbert. He hasn’t talked publicly about the allegations.