Feb. 8, 2022: Delivering on a commitment to creating a supportive, safe campus


NOTE: This letter refers to events that may trigger traumatic memories for some members of our community. Resources and assistance are available through multiple campus programs.

MSU Faculty, Staff and Students,

Early last year, we wrote to reaffirm our commitment to a safer, more inclusive campus climate we all can be proud of. We acknowledged that the institution failed both survivors and the community, and we outlined actions needed to eradicate relationship violence and sexual misconduct from Michigan State University. We continued to build on those actions throughout the year. In that time, we’ve made significant progress that lays a common foundation for what we believe in fundamentally and will foster additional progress.

In the January 2021 letter, we identified actionable steps to keep our institution accountable to all those it serves. We are pleased now to provide you with a report on each of those actions.

  • A historical and comprehensive review of faculty and academic staff emeriti who had RVSM violations for potential emeritus status revocation. Following this review and in partnership with the University Committee on Faculty Affairs, we revoked the emeritus status of six former faculty members. We also identified improvements to the emeritus status policy that would allow us to take additional appropriate action in the future. We recognize that these steps might not undo the harm the individuals may have caused, but we hope they reinforce that even retired faculty can and will be held accountable for violating university policy when new evidence is brought forward.
  • Professional Standards Policy for faculty and academic staff. This work is continuing and is being developed collaboratively between university leadership and academic governance to provide a common understanding of professional conduct by which faculty and academic staff conduct themselves.
  • Updated the discipline process for consistency in disciplinary actions and outcomes across employee groups. This work brought together a diverse group of stakeholders who have recommended important improvements to the Board of Trustees — with the support of each of us — to the university’s tenured faculty discipline and dismissal for cause policy. The improvements outline a standard timeline for handling discipline and build in more transparency, clarity and consistency for violations of university policy. 

The updates to the discipline and dismissal policy for tenured faculty will be voted on this week by MSU’s Board of Trustees during its regularly scheduled meeting. This policy change is a culmination of months of work by university leaders, including MSU’s Office for Faculty and Academic Staff Affairs, the Faculty Senate Discipline Process and Sanction Review Task Force and the Faculty Senate body, which unanimously voted in support of these changes. This updated policy charts us on a path toward a more equitable discipline process across employee groups.

Looking back on this year of action, we want to recognize the broad-based collaboration of the campus community, which helped establish a comprehensive strategic plan to prevent and address relationship violence and sexual misconduct. The university also launched Support More, a new campaign that focuses on providing guidance for how to respond to disclosures of relationship violence, sexual assault or abuse, sexual harassment and stalking in ways that are most helpful to survivors. Importantly, the campaign also shares the broad range of campus resources available in support of its efforts.

Progress and change take sustained action, and we are committed to just that. We know that leadership, policies and people drive necessary and important change. And while our work to create a more welcoming, inclusive and safe campus community for all continues with each action we take, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the continued commitment from you — our Spartan community — in joining us on this journey of change. Thank you. 

Sincerely,

Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. (he/him)
President

Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. (she/her)
Provost and EVP for Academic Affairs

Melissa Woo, Ph.D. (she/her)
EVP for administration and Chief Information Officer

Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., M.D. (he/him)
EVP for Health Sciences