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Veterinary dean resigns, referencing MSU's handling of sexual misconduct

March 2, 2023
The entrance to the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine on Feb. 1, 2023.
The entrance to the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine on Feb. 1, 2023.

Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine dean Birgit Puschner resigned, citing the university’s mishandling of sexual misconduct investigations. 

Puschner will step down on March 31. She informed students and faculty in the veterinary school of her resignation in a college-wide email Monday

Despite prioritizing a safe and supportive campus environment, Puschner said in the email that she has become discouraged by MSU’s approach to creating such an atmosphere regarding the handling of discrimination, sexual assault and harassment.

"After years of all-consuming work, I came to the conclusion that I cannot, in good conscience, continue in my current role as Dean," Puschner said in the email. "The lack of success in holding individuals accountable for the hurt they have caused to others troubles me and crosses the boundaries of my professional ethics and personal integrity and morals. MSU needs rapid and sustained progress in this regard to minimize any future harm to individuals, and to retain talent."

Puschner expressed confidence in the college's leadership team and said she will continue to work with it until her last day as dean.

"In the longer term, I will return to my faculty position, which will enable me to provide diagnostic toxicology services, serve as residency mentor for the toxicology residency at the VDL/PDI, and contribute to the educational, research, service, and outreach mission of the (college) through my veterinary toxicology expertise," Puschner said.

Interim provost Thomas Jeitschko said in an email to faculty that Puschner's impact as dean has been tremendous.

"Under her leadership, the college forged a partnership with the Detroit International Academy for Young Women to meet the growing need for veterinarians in the United States," Jeitschko said in the email. "Through the work of Birgit and her team, CVM has been engaged in a comprehensive strategic plan since 2021 focused on a mission to learn, discover, heal, and protect. I am confident this great work will continue under the tremendous leadership team the Birgit helped to assemble at CVM."

Jeitschko did not reference Puschner's frustration with the university's handling of sexual misconduct investigations. 

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