Michigan State knows, like few other universities, the perils of failure to report sexual misconduct. The Lansing, Michigan public school was rocked by scandal and shame in 2015 and 2016 amid shocking revelations involving Larry Nassar, who served as team doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State athletics for nearly two decades.
Nassar pleaded guilty in 2017 to sexually assaulting hundreds of women and girl gymnasts and other athletes, abusing the trust of the athlete, their families, and those who put him in a position of authority. He is serving a combination of consecutive federal and state prison sentences that add up to hundreds of years, meaning he will never again set foot outside prison walls. But while Nassar himself can never again harm young women, the reputational damage to Michigan State has been incalculable: Having been accused — like Penn State and Ohio State — of missing many chances to stop Nassar over the years, the school agreed to pay $500 million to more than 300 women and girls who were his victims.
The Nassar scandal is a stain that will never completely go away. It got a fresh and painful airing when Michigan State’s Broad College of Business Dean Sanjay Gupta abruptly resigned this month for reasons related to “concerns over his leadership” and “an alleged failure to report an allegation of sexual misconduct that was made against one of his subordinates,” according to Michigan media.
SCHOOL CITES ‘ FAILURE TO ADHERE TO MANDATORY REPORTING GUIDELINES’
Gupta joined Michigan Broad as an accounting and information systems professor. He became interim dean at Michigan Broad in 2014, then ascended to the deanship in July of the next year. Local reports indicate that while he is stepping down as dean, he will remain a professor at the school, with a salary of $428,372, about 18% less than the $523,566 he made as dean.
Further details about Gupta’s alleged transgression are still unknown publicly. Understandably, university policy is strict in regards to sexual misconduct, requiring employees to promptly report incidents of harassment, violence, misconduct, stalking, or relationship violence observed in a professional capacity involving university employees or occurring at university-sponsored events or on university property.
In a written statement shared with Michigan media, Gupta said he has fully cooperated during an investigation that has been ongoing for a few months. “I’ve acted accordingly with transparency to ensure a thorough and accurate report,” he says. “I’ve served MSU for 15 years, including the last seven as dean of the business school — and I’m confident the proper steps to initiate an investigation of alleged misconduct, which I took extremely seriously, had been taken and that mandatory reporting obligations had been met.”
But the university released its own statement through spokesperson Emily Gerkin Guerrant casting doubt on Gupta’s assertions — and reminding the school community, if it needed a reminder, of the consequences of inaction.
“Those who take on leadership roles at MSU are expected to conduct themselves with careful and consistent attention to integrity and professionalism,” Guerrant said. “This leadership transition is the result of poor administrative oversight, including a failure to adhere to our mandatory reporting guidelines.
“Our recent institutional history underscores the significance of a failure to report and the devastating impact it can have on individuals across our campus and beyond. It is incumbent upon our leaders to understand their reporting responsibilities to further a safe, welcoming space for all students, employees and guests.”
POPULAR PROF TO FILL IN AMID NEW DEAN SEARCH
Judith Whipple, interim associate dean for faculty and doctoral programs in the MSU Broad College of Business, was nominated by the Michigan State provost to serve as interim dean. A decision on her nomination is expected in September. Whipple would likely hold the title until next summer amid what is expected to be a lengthy search for a permanent dean.
Whipple is a logistics and supply chain management professor who was named one of the Poets&Quants MBA Class of 2021’s Favorite Professors. Michigan State Broad’s full-time MBA program is currently ranked 33rd in the United States by Poets&Quants.
“I am confident in Dr. Whipple’s knowledge of the Broad College, her leadership background and her academic excellence as she steps into this role,” university Provost Teresa Woodruff said in a news release. “She knows the strengths of the Broad College’s faculty, staff and students as they strive to create and disseminate knowledge through collaboration.”
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