MSU: New president will be chosen by June 2019

By Alice Yin
Associated Press

LANSING (AP) — 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. The pick will be announced on June 2019, 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,” 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.

Earlier this month, media reports found he sent emails suggesting that Rachael Denhollander, one of Nassar’s most outspoken accusers, probably received a “kickback” from her attorney. Engler apologized eight days later, after 150 Nassar sexual abuse survivors signed a letter demanding his ouster.

A public board meeting on June 22 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 that 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.”

Brian Mosallam, the trustee who spearheaded Engler’s attempted ouster, said after the board 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.