Michigan school gave degree decades after sexual harassment

October 5, 2021 GMT

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan State University official delivered a doctorate degree to a New Jersey man in 2019, decades after he and his wife were sexually harassed by a professor when they were students.

Jon Edwards said he stopped pursuing an advanced degree in history to protest the behavior of Harold Marcus, although he had only a few steps remaining, the Lansing State Journal reported.

Cheryl Edwards received $25,000 from Michigan State, the newspaper reported. She said Marcus got physical with her, propositioned her for sex and exposed his genitals when she was an undergraduate.

Jon Edwards said Marcus, his Ph.D. adviser, would regularly talk to him about sex in the late 1970s and early ’80s. Marcus died in 2003.


The couple filed a complaint with Michigan State in 2018 when the school was dealing with a scandal related to campus sports doctor Larry Nassar, who sexually assaulted gymnasts.

“Had I completed the final small requirements for the degree, I was fully convinced that Marcus would have used my successes to recruit others to a program that I did not believe was worthy,” Edwards wrote in an email to Michigan State’s Office of Institutional Equity, explaining why he left.

A 2019 investigation by Michigan State found that Marcus had violated the university’s sexual misconduct policy, the State Journal reported.

Thomas Jeitschko, associate provost for graduate and postdoctoral studies, said he delivered Jon Edwards’ doctorate to his home in Mercer County, New Jersey, in 2019.

He found that Edwards had successfully defended his dissertation decades earlier but was “placed in an untenable situation” because of Marcus’ conduct.

“It’s an utter miracle I have computing to fall back on,” Jon Edwards said. “It’s nothing to complain about, but my passion for African history, Cheryl’s passion for Africa, was quashed.”