Sunday, August 1, 2021

MSU investigation pushed for the dismissal of former tenured professor prior to his resignation

July 14, 2021
Teal ribbons were displayed on trees outside of the East Lansing Public Library prior to President Samuel Stanley Jr. speaking about sexual assault on Oct. 8.
Teal ribbons were displayed on trees outside of the East Lansing Public Library prior to President Samuel Stanley Jr. speaking about sexual assault on Oct. 8. —
Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

Ex-Michigan State University professor David Foran resigned on June 3 prior to being fired by the university after an investigation from the Office of Institutional Equity, or OIE, found that he sexually harassed four students and retaliated against people that participated in the investigation. 

The investigation found that Foran violated MSU’s RVSM policy by “engaging in unwanted and unnecessary touching, making inappropriate comments and creating a hostile environment” according to Michigan State President Samuel L. Stanley’s dismissal for cause letter written in April. 

The OIE report found that Foran retaliated against one person who was involved in the investigation, which also violated Section X of MSU’s RVSM policy by threatening them over their involvement with the investigation according to Stanley’s letter.

A Hearing Committee was formed to hold hearings about Foran’s employment in Dec. 2020. The Committee unanimously concluded on Jan. 28 that there was enough evidence for dismissal according to the dismissal letter.

“The Charging Parties have proven by clear and convincing evidence that Dr. Foran engaged in acts of discrimination, including harassment, and retaliation prohibited by University policy,” the Hearing Committee said on Jan. 28. 

The ruling from the hearing committee meant that the university had the burden of proof necessary to dismiss Foran, according to Section IV of the Dismissal for Tenured Faculty policy for MSU. 

The investigation also found that Foran refused to perform “reasonable assigned duties” as tenured faculty at MSU. Stanley said in the dismissal letter that he concurred with the Committee’s judgement that Foran was insubordinate and refused to listen to supervisors.

Foran appealed the decision. The University Committee on Faculty Tenure formed an appeal panel and met March 10 to decide Foran’s fate. The appeal panel ruled that the Hearing Committee did not commit any violations and upheld its decision.

Stanley concluded his letter by saying that he agreed with the Hearing Committee’s investigation and recommended the dismissal of Foran at the next Board of Trustees meeting on June 18.

Provost Teresa Woodruff sent an email to Foran on May 26 informing him of Stanley’s decision and that the Board would be making a final decision on his employment. On June 3, Foran resigned from MSU before the Board could meet.

“Owing to matters beyond my control, I am hereby resigning from my position at Michigan State University,” Foran said in his resignation letter.

“Although David Foran resigned after both the discipline hearing committee and the president’s recommendation for dismissal from Michigan State University, but before the Board of Trustees’ meeting to act upon the recommendations, the university has ensured he cannot be affiliated with our institution again,” university spokesperson Dan Olsen said in a statement to The State News.

Mary Finn, the dean of Social Science at Michigan State, requested that Foran be barred from working for the University again following his resignation. 

“Given the finding of the OIE investigation and in consultation with Academic Human Resources, I am requesting that Dr. Foran be restricted from being rehired (paid, unpaid, self-funded) or affiliated with MSU in any capacity,” Finn said in her email to MSU HR. “We all agree that the behavior displayed by Dr. Foran is reprehensible and will not be tolerated at Michigan State University.”


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