Former Michigan State University School of Business Dean Sanjay Gupta on Friday filed a lawsuit against Interim President Teresa Woodruff alleging that she defamed him and used her power to demote him so that he would not be a rival to serve as the next university president.
“Defendant Teresa Woodruff, then provost and now interim president, orchestrated numerous violations of Gupta’s due process rights, unlawfully interfered with his contract and business dealings with MSU, and defamed him him in a power scheme to ensure that Gupta would not be named as the successor to outgoing former President Samuel Stanley, Jr., and to further Woodruff’s personal ambition to become President,” the lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the Western District of Michigan.
Gupta stepped down as dean in August after serving seven years after admitting he failed to report a business school head who was allegedly drunk and acting inappropriately at an end-of-year gala in April. Gupta learned of the alleged incident from two fellow deans, who indicated they planned to report the incident to the university’s Office of Institutional Equity for investigation. Gupta did not report the incident and lost his post of seven years for an alleged violation of the university’s mandatory reporting policies.
“Gupta had no duty to re-report anything that had already been reported to OIE by his direct reports as a potential RVSM Policy issue under MSU’s clearly defined policies,” the lawsuit alleges.
In addition to Woodruff, also named as defendants are former MSU President Samuel Stanley, Interim Provost Thomas Jeitschko, Title IX Coordinator Nicole Schmidtke, Title IX Senior Investigator Allison Towe, Interim Associate Provost Ann Austin and spokeswoman Emily Guerrant , who participated in the rights of all. and defaming him,” the lawsuit states.
Gupta is seeking reinstatement and discretionary damages from the court.
The resignation of Gupta, who remains an accounting professor, has been controversial because MSU has a history of applying misconduct policies unevenly. Guerrant previously said the mandatory reporting training has been improved after a report by federal officials showed MSU had failures in that area. She could not immediately be reached Friday.
In addition, Gupta revealed during his review with Woodruff, who was then the provost, that he aspired to become president of MSU. His resignation came after a meeting with Woodruff, who said she was responsible as a provocateur to take action that aligns with MSU’s values.
The dispute came to a head in December when lawyers for Quinn Emanuel presented an update on the investigation during a private session with the Michigan state board. Students, faculty, staff and alumni were in an uproar the next day at the board’s December public meeting, demanding that Gupta’s investigative report be made public. Some alumni even threatened to stop their donations to the university.
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