Another Twist In The Saga Of Michigan State Broad’s Ousted Dean

Michigan State Broad College of Business Dean Sanjay Gupta unexpectedly stepped down in August 2022, just two years into his second term, over what Michigan media described as “an alleged failure to report an allegation of sexual misconduct that was made against one of his subordinates”; Gupta later claimed to have been forced out. In February he sued the school, and a judge this week ruled the lawsuit can go forward. Michigan State photo

The story of the dramatic ouster of Michigan State University’s business school dean has taken another turn, this time in the former dean’s favor.

Sanjay Gupta, who stepped down in late summer 2022 for what was initially reported as a failure to properly report a professor’s inappropriate behavior, is suing school officials, saying his due process rights were violated and his character defamed. The school had asked a U.S. district court judge to dismiss the lawsuit, but on Wednesday (June 14) the judge ruled that Gupta’s lawsuit can proceed.

In the suit, Gupta claims that he wasn’t forced to resign over the clumsy handling of a scandal involving sexual misconduct by a professor at an end-of-year, off-campus MBA student party, as the school had claimed. Instead, he says, he was the victim of a power struggle, forced out by then-Provost Teresa Woodruff after he expressed interest in becoming Michigan State’s president — the job she wanted and currently holds on an interim basis.


Interim Michigan State University President Teresa Woodruff

Gupta joined Michigan State as an accounting and information systems professor in 2007 after 17 years as a professor at Arizona State’s W.P. Carey School of Business. He became interim dean at the Broad College in 2014, then ascended to the deanship in July of the next year. He was appointed to a second five-year term in 2020. That same year, Teresa Woodruff came to MSU as provost after serving as dean of the graduate school and associate provost for graduate education at Northwestern University, where she had spent 25 years as a professor and administrator.

The cascade of events leading to the end of Gupta’s deanship began in April 2022, according to a timeline in an independent review commissioned by the university’s Board of Trustees. At an off-campus “Gatsby Gala” for MBA students on April 22, then-Associate Dean Charles Hadlock became intoxicated and danced in a sexually suggestive manner with female students, behavior that was documented in a brief video taken by another person at the party. Hadlock is now a chaired finance professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business.

Over the course of four days after the gala, Hadlock’s behavior was reported to the school’s Office of Institutional Equity by students and faculty members who heard about it from students. Sometime between April 26 and April 29, a Broad administrator informed Gupta about Hadlock’s actions; around the same time, Gupta heard about the incident from a second administrator. Meanwhile, more reports about the incident continued to come in to OIE. On May 2, Hadlock met with Gupta and admitted to the offense, saying he “drank too much” and was “very sorry.” The next day, Hadlock announced his resignation, effective June 30, 2022.

Michigan State, one-time employer of the notorious Larry Nassar, has a fraught history with sexual misconduct. 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.

However, Hadlock’s resignation did not end the matter. Woodruff, who as provost had the power to fire and hire deans, told investigators that she gave five reasons for asking for Gupta’s resignation: his alleged violation of the policy requiring employees to report relationship violence and sexual misconduct; his own failure to investigate an instance of alleged sexual misconduct of a business school leader; that his delay in reporting caused a two-month delay in an Office of Institutional Equity investigation; his failure to notify Faculty and Academic Staff Affairs of the misconduct and the accused leader’s request to retire; and failure to prevent an Outside Work for Pay Policy violation for the accused leader.

Gupta resigned as dean in August. In November 2022, when MSU President Samuel Stanley left the school, Woodruff was named interim president.

Gupta — who had completed university-mandated training on sexual harassment in 2021 — says he complied with all university rules and was pressured to step down. Amid outcry from students and faculty, the university’s Board of Trustees commissioned the independent review of Woodruff’s decision to dismiss Gupta. The 104-page report by Los Angeles-based firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, including interviews with 11 individuals and a review of more than 9,300 documents, was released publicly in late March 2023. It found that Woodruff’s justification for removing Gupta was severely flawed, and that among her five reasons for getting rid of the dean, only one allegation was valid: his initial failure to report Hadlock’s behavior.


Gupta’s lawsuit states that “The facts establish that Gupta did not violate any mandatory reporting policy, promptly acted to protect students and complied with published MSU Title IX policies … and acted with integrity, transparency and professionalism at all times as Dean of the Eli Broad College of Business.” All told, Gupta is accusing Woodruff and six other university leaders — Interim Provost Thomas Jeitschko, Title IX Coordinator Nicole Schmidtke, Senior Title IX investigator Allison Towe, interim Associate Provost Ann Austin, former university President Stanley, and Emily Guerrant, vice president of communications — of playing a role in a scheme to oust him.

That scheme took shape in June 2022, Gupta alleges in his lawsuit, when Woodruff discovered during a performance review that Gupta aspired to the university presidency, a job he claims she wanted. He says she drummed up a reason to demand his resignation two months later and then publicly promoted a false narrative for pushing him out, with the help of the others named in the suit. “Defendants … (orchestrated) the process behind the scenes in an effort for Woodruff to smear and stigmatize Gupta’s good name and thereby eliminate her competitor,” the lawsuit says. The amended suit adds the eight university trustees as defendants.

Michigan State officials named in Gupta’s lawsuit asked U.S. Western District Court judge Paul Maloney to dismiss what they called “a desperate, last-ditch plea” to be reinstated as Broad’s dean, but this week, Maloney agreed that Gupta’s lawsuit could go forward. Gupta is requesting a trial by jury and asking the court to reinstate him as dean; he also seeks an undisclosed amount in damages and an acknowledgement that his due process rights were violated.


Even as he has been forced out of the dean’s office, Gupta has remained a professor at the school. His faculty page is still live at the MSU website — and his LinkedIn profile still describes him as the business school’s dean.

His hopes for reinstatement may be dwindling with time: The university has been conducting a search for his replacement since last fall, and reports say school officials hope to conclude it by July.


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