Did This B-School Dean Resign Or Was He Pushed Out?

Broad College of Business Dean Sanjay Gupta left his deanship in August

Michigan State University announced on Aug. 12th that Sanjay Gupta, dean of its Broad College of Business, had resigned in the midst of a major controversy. The university disclosed that it had concerns over Gupta’s leadership after what it alleged was Gupta’s “failure to report under our mandatory reporting policies.” MSU suggested that Gupta’s failed to report sexual misconduct by an underling at the school (see Michigan State B-School Dean’s Resignation Evokes Memories Of Past Scandal).

Not so fast. 

It now turns out that the university forced Gupta, a popular and successful dean, out of his job. The university’s board of trustees has now hired a law firm to review the decision by university Provost Teresa Woodruff to dismiss Gupta. A university spokesperson is still insisting that Gupta resigned.


But the decision by the trustees and a subsequent letter from senior professors as the school openly dispute that claim. “The removal of Sanjay Gupta as Dean of the Broad College of Business was implemented by the Provost of the University with the support of the President,” according to the statement signed by Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Dan Kelly.

“The authority to remove a dean is vested in the Provost, and the propriety of that act is the responsibility of the President. The Board of Trustees is responsible for the oversight and governance of the University and has retained outside counsel to review the administration’s decision in this matter.” 

Kelly says the statement was released “on behalf of an overwhelming majority of the board members.” The board hired Los Angeles-based firm Quinn Emanuel.


A search for the next permanent dean of Broad is expected to begin this fall, with the hope that Gupta’s successor will be selected by July of 2023. In the meantime, Judith Whipple, interim associate dean for faculty and doctoral programs at Broad, is expected to serve as interim dean. The Board of Trustees, however, must approve her appointment as interim at its next meeting on Sept. 9.

The board’s decision to hire legal counsel comes after trustees received a letter from 21 senior professors at Broad. The professors challenged Woodruff’s claim.

“Provost Woodruff has stated that Dean Gupta did not adhere to the university’s mandatory reporting responsibility,” according to that letter. “However, in direct opposition to this statement, Dean Gupta has stated publicly that he did,” the professors wrote. “To add to the confusion regarding what has transpired, we are also puzzled about Provost Woodruff’s implication that Dean Gupta has failed to create safe and respectful working environments in our college because this is inconsistent with all we have witnessed over the last seven years.”


They asked the board to conduct an investigation. “As senior professors in the Broad College, we believe that a thorough and independent internal investigation of this matter is needed to determine what the truth is regarding these very serious charges against Dean Gupta,” the professors wrote. “Consequently, we respectfully petition the Board of Trustees to initiate such an investigation — one that is independent of both the Provost’s office and the Broad College of Business.”

Despite the university’s claim that Gupta had resigned his deanship, the university President Samuel Stanley Jr. seemed to suggest that Gupta was indeed fired, maintaining that the Provost has the authority to change the leadership at the school.

“Dr. Gupta served in his role as dean at the will of the Provost and she was well within her rights to make this leadership transition,” according to a statement released by Stanley.”I fully support this decision and the process utilized to come to this action. The administration will cooperate with the outside counsel.”


Gupta has insisted that he did nothing wrong and that he had been cooperating in an MSU investigation. 

“During the past few months, I’ve fully cooperated with the Office of Institutional Equity’s investigation, which remains ongoing, and I’ve acted accordingly with transparency to ensure a thorough and accurate report,” he wrote in a statement. “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.”

While the details behind Gupta’s mandatory reporting concerns were unclear, the university’s mandatory reporting policy requires that, unless identified as a confidential source, all university employees must report sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual misconduct, stalking and relationship violence incidents if they observe it themselves or learn about it in their professional capacity, if it involves a member of the university community, if it occurred at a university-sponsored event or on university property.

University officials then pointed to the Larry Nassar scandal and other instances of sexual misconduct at MSU to highlight the importance of mandatory reporting. “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,” according to the statement. “It is incumbent upon our leaders to understand their reporting responsibilities to further a safe, welcoming space for all students, employees and guests.”


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