UM Regents Call for External Investigation

In a resolution approved unanimously at the start of their Feb. 16 board meeting, University of Michigan regents called for an external investigation of actions related to a former UM medical resident who is charged with possession of child pornography. The resolution, moved from the floor by regent Martin Taylor, called the incident “one that is unacceptable to the regents and that we, the regents, feel we must do everything within our power to ensure that it is not repeated.” [.pdf of Taylor's statement]

The former medical resident, Stephen Jenson, is accused of viewing child pornography on a UM health system computer. The incident was reported in May of 2011 but was not acted on by university officials until November. Jenson was arrested in mid-December, and the case is now being handled by federal investigators.

Nearly a week ago, on Feb. 10, the university issued a report of its internal investigation, which included recommendations for changes to ensure better security and communication. A statement was also issued by UM president Mary Sue Coleman, who called the six-month delay in responding to the allegations “a serious failure on the part of our institution – there is simply no other way to describe it.” [.pdf of UM report] [.pdf of Coleman's statement] The university’s office of the vice president for communications has set up a website with documents related to the incident.

The resolution passed by regents on Feb. 16 calls for the board chair, Denise Ilitch, to work with Coleman and others to make recommendations to the board for outside consultants who could be hired to carry out an investigation. The aim would be to (1) determine individual accountability and whether further action must be taken: and (2) examine the current organizational structure for campus law enforcement and investigations, and to provide options with regard to that structure. The resolution also stated that “911 must be fixed ASAP. When people call, it should be clear who they are talking to, and under what authority.” The resolution does not specify a timeframe for these actions to occur.

During public commentary at the end of the meeting, two people addressed the board on this issue, harshly criticizing the university in general and Coleman specifically for failing to deal with the situation in a timely way. The remarks prompted Ilitch to defend Coleman, saying the personal attacks against Coleman were very unfair. The distain and anger that people feel should be directed toward Jenson, she said, not Coleman.

This brief will be followed by a full report on the UM regents Feb. 16, 2012 meeting: [link]