Michigan State: New president will be chosen by June 2019
By Alice Yin
June 27, 2018
The tumultuous era of Michigan State University interim president John Engler is expected to come to an end next summer.
The university's governing board revealed the timeline Wednesday for selecting its next president. By June 2019, the choice will be revealed, trustees said.
Engler, a former Republican governor of Michigan, was tapped to temporarily lead the university in February after former president Lou Anna Simon stepped down amid the crisis surrounding ex-sports doctor Larry Nassar, who sexually abused hundreds of girls and women while employed at Michigan State. Nassar, who also worked for USA Gymnastics, is now imprisoned , and Michigan State has agreed to pay a $500 million settlement to his sexual assault victims.
Trustees Dianne Byrum and Melanie Foster will lead the search, with outgoing University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan serving as an adviser. The process will commence in July and entail gathering input from community stakeholders, forming a search committee and hiring a search firm.
"We are approaching this process as one Spartan community and look forward to learning the qualities and characteristics our students, faculty, staff and other key stakeholders consider most important," Byrum said in the press release. "We must find broad agreement and have a common understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges facing our community."
The announcement follows speculation about whether the embattled interim president would even survive the month.
Engler has come under fire for suggesting in emails that Rachael Denhollander, one of Nassar's most outspoken accusers, probably received a "kickback" from her attorney. Engler apologized eight days after media reports of the email and after 150 Nassar sexual abuse survivors signed a letter demanding his ouster.
A public board meeting on Friday began with two trustees backing a motion to fire him, but it failed. Engler later reiterated his intention to lead the university as it mulls Simon's successor.
"My replacement will hopefully be found soon," he said after Friday's meeting. "I am enthusiastic about finding my replacement."
But one of the student activists who this month culled over 1,000 signatures demanding Engler's resignation expressed doubts.
"(The timeline is) a huge concern for our community's wellbeing," Katie Paulot, a spokeswoman for the grassroots Reclaim MSU student group and an incoming sophomore at the school, said in a statement. "We have seen what Engler has done being in office for the last months and the damage this has caused. The community cannot stand to have Engler continuing in this position."
Brian Mosallam, the trustee who spearheaded Engler's attempted ouster, said after the Friday meeting that the interim president is still on "thin ice" with the board — which, come January, will undergo elections for two Republican-held seats. Mosallam, a Democrat, said he remains concerned that Engler's private comments about Nassar survivors set "a chilling tone" on campus for students weighing whether to bring their sexual assaults forward.
"Early on, I want this new president to focus on student health and wellness, student safety and really take sexual misconduct seriously," he said Friday.