Michigan State faculty members issued a vote of no confidence in the university’s board of trustees Tuesday afternoon as the campus continues to deal with fallout from the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal.
Members of the faculty voted 61-4 to express no confidence in the eight-member governing body at Michigan State, according to multiple news outlets in East Lansing. The faculty does not have power to force trustees from their position; they are elected by the public for eight-year terms. But members of the school’s faculty felt it was important to let the trustees know that a major part of the campus community does not approve of recent decisions they have made.
The vote was called largely in response to the board’s decision to name John Engler, a former Michigan governor, the school’s interim president. Engler replaced Lou Anna Simon as Michigan State’s leader two weeks ago. Simon resigned last month amid heavy criticism that she and the university did not properly handle the Nassar case while the disgraced doctor abused patients on campus, nor during the aftermath of his crimes since he was fired in September 2016.
The faculty had hoped the board would pick an interim president who had more academic experience and more experience in dealing with sexual assault issues.
Trustee Brian Mosallam said he met with some members of the university’s steering committee — a group that includes elected faculty members — after Engler was named interim president to let them know that the selection process should have included more input from them.
“I told them that we as a board failed them as it related to the process,” Mosallam said. “I made a commitment to work with them going forward.”
Engler sent a letter to the “MSU campus community” on Tuesday to provide an update on ways in which the university is cooperating with several different ongoing investigations. The Michigan attorney general’s office, the Department of Education, both chambers of the U.S. Congress and the NCAA are among the groups currently investigating Michigan State’s response to Nassar and sexual assault complaints in general.
Engler’s letter also called a recent investigative report from ESPN’s Outside the Lines regarding Michigan State’s response to sexual assault “a sensationalized package of reporting.”
“We stand by our reporting,” ESPN said in a statement Tuesday.
Engler’s letter says he asked men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo and football coach Mark Dantonio, both mentioned in the report, to refrain from comment while the report was being reviewed.
“That has been a burden that must be lifted,” Engler said in his letter. “I hope that MSU can soon respond in full and affirm the integrity and probity that has been the hallmark of these two respected coaches.”
Dantonio denied allegations of mishandling any sexual assault cases in a previously unscheduled news conference held hours after the Outside the Lines report was published. Izzo has not commented on the report. His team plays in Minnesota on Tuesday night.