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UVM Review: 'No irregularities' with Dissertation on Role of Presidential Spouses


An internal review by the University of Vermont found "no irregularities" regarding either the research work or dissertation written by a top university official who was involved in an unusual and years-long relationship by UVM President Dan Fogel's wife, Rachel Kahn-Fogel.

As a result of Seven Daysinquiries into Kahn-Fogel's influence over the doctoral studies and day-to-day employment of Michael Schultz, the school's associate vice president for development and alumni relations, UVM trustees launched an investigation into the relationship between Kahn-Fogel to determine if UVM resources were used inappropriately or whether she violated any UVM workplace policies.

Schultz admitted during a divorce hearing that he had been in a nonsexual but amorous relationship with Kahn-Fogel for more than six years. Kahn-Fogel’s romantic emails — retrieved from the university email system — revealed she also lobbied Schultz’s bosses to arrange his schedule so the two could work events together.

UVM trustees were investigating whether Kahn-Fogel had any undue influence on Schultz’s doctoral dissertation, titled “Elucidating the Role of the University CEO’s Spouse in Development, Alumni Relations and Fund Raising.”

The results of the internal review — which found Schultz's doctoral files to be "in order and unremarkable" — were released Tuesday at a UVM Board of Trustees Executive Committee meeting. The report was compiled by Associate Provost for Curricular Affairs Brian Reed and read to the board by Provost Jane Knodell.

"A review of the doctoral dissertation of Dr. Michael Schultz was conducted during the time period May 16 to May 27, 2011," Knodell said. "The purpose of the review was to ensure the dissertation had in fact followed all institutional policies and procedures and that there had been no irregularities including direct or indirect attempts by Rachel Kahn-Fogel to influence the inception or the outcome."

The review examined all of Schultz's graduate college files and included interviews with each of the dissertation committee members and the responsible administrative officers in the graduate college.

"All committee members and administrative officers stated that they had not been aware of any attempts by a third party to influence the outcome of the dissertation, and that if they had suspected such they would have 'blown the whistle,'" Knodell added.

The review revealed "no evidence of irregularities including attempts by Rachel Kahn-Fogel or any other party to influence the outcome of the Schultz dissertation," Knodell concluded.

UVM Board Chairman Robert Cioffi told fellow committee members that Schultz had given UVM permission under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act to publicly release certain details of his doctoral thesis files.

UVM officials have not said how long the other aspects of their review into Kahn-Fogel's actions will take.

Since our initial investigation published on May 25, Seven Days has since learned that the tumult inside the Office of Development and Alumni Relations — in part created by Kahn-Fogel's personality clashes with top UVM officials — has left in its wake a trail of separation agreements and constant churn at the office's top post.

President Fogel announced on March 23 that he would step down as university president in July 2012. UVM has already embarked on a national search for his replacement.