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Update: John Engler Will Quit Today Before MSU Fires Him, Lansing News Service Tweets

January 16, 2019, 3:29 PM by  Alan Stamm

First update, Tuesday morning:

Stand by for East Lansing drama early Thursday.

MSU trustees will have a short-notice meeting at 8 a.m., chair Dianne Byrum tweets Wednesday morning. "There will be one agenda item on personnel matters," she says.

She spoke with Interim President John Engler and asked him to resign before then, sources close to the Republican ex-governor tell David Jesse of the Detroit Free Press.

Sources said at least five board members are prepared to vote to fire Engler.

Michigan State has eight trustees. Kelly Tebay and Brianna T. Scott, newly elected members in their first month as trustees, signal that they'll vote for removal if Engler doesn't quit.

Larry Nassar abuse survivors criticize Engler as callous and insensitive, most recently for telling The Detroit News editrorial board on Jan. 11 that some of those molested by the sports medicine doctor are "enjoying" the "spotlight."

In an seven-word tweet 15 minutes after Byrum's, board member Brian Mossalam says bluntly and in all caps: "John Engler's reign of terror is over." That stark post earns nearly 400 "likes" and is shared about 100 times in three hours.

Mossalam, a repeated Engler critic, tells the Freep: "Michigan State University will be returned to its people." 

Separately, he says to Detroit News reporter Kim Kozlowski: "I have watched Engler not only interact with our courageous survivors but our faculty, employees and students as well. "He's not only a bully, he is a mean-spirited human being. His time is up."

But longtime Trustee Joel Ferguson disagreed. "We’re better off looking for a new president right now and having less controversy and less drama as possible," Ferguson said. "We just have to put our best face forward."

Attorney Brianna T. Scott, elected to the board two months ago, also is ready for change. "It's time!" she posts on Facebook, adding:

"When I talk about character, integrity, compassion and temperament, it is always true that leadership starts at the top and you MUST have the right leadership qualities in order to change the culture of ANY organization!

"When you see DYSFUNCTION in any organization, just look at the leader and it speaks volumes. I WILL always vote for what's right! Tomorrow I'm taking a stand!"

From Washington, Michigan's senators (both Democrats) tweet:

MSU's board, with a slightly different makeup, hired the Republican ex-governor last January -- seven days after Lou Anna Simon quit amid an outcry over her mishandling of complaints about Nassar, now behind bars for serial sexual abuse.

Agitation for new interim leadership during a presidential search also comes from the MSU Deans Council. Twenty-three members signed a Wednesday letter to the board that says, in part:

"The pattern of comments by Interim President Engler . . . further harms the very people it is our responsibility to support. . . .

"We do not support his continued leadership and request that the board take appropriate action."

At the board's last meeting Jan. 9, faculty member Anna Pegler Gordon rose during pulic comments to say that a student, faculty and staff group named ReclaimMSU sees Engler as untrustworthy and unsympathetic to Nassar survivors. "We believe the board should fire Engler," she said, the Freep recounts Wednesday.

Mossalam, whose eight-year board term began in 2013, is a financial adviser and cum laude MSU graduate ('96). He played varsity football all four fears at the university.

Original article, Jan. 12:

Yes, here he goes again. John Engler, MSU's interim president, is criticized by the university's new board chair for an "ill-advised" comment about victims of imprisoned abuser Larry Nassar.

A national publication, The Chronicle of Higher Education, covers the fresh flare-up: 

John Engler says some survivors "are still enjoying ... the awards and recognition."
(Photo: Facebook)

John M. Engler . . . is under fire for saying in an interview on Friday that sexual-abuse survivors are "enjoying" the "spotlight" that they've drawn since they went public with stories of being sexually assaulted by a former sports doctor at the university.

"There are a lot of people who are touched by this, survivors who haven’t been in the spotlight," Engler, a former Republican governor, told The Detroit News' editorial board. "In some ways they have been able to deal with this better than the ones who've been in the spotlight, who are still enjoying that moment at times, you know, the awards and recognition." . . .

Engler’s remarks are the latest in a series of inflammatory comments that have pitted him against abuse survivors and led to calls for his removal. Engler was tapped a year ago to lead Michigan State, following revelations that Nassar, a former osteopathic physician at the university, had sexually assaulted women and girls under the guise of medical treatment. Nassar is serving a minimum 40-year prison sentence.

But far from stabilizing the university, Engler has fueled outrage.

Chronicle reporter Jack Stripling exchanged Twitter messages with Dianne Byrum, who was elected this week as head of the university’s Board of Trustees and who rebukes the interim president:

"His remarks were ill-advised and not helpful to the healing process, survivors, or the university," Byrum, a former Democratic lawmaker, said in a direct message on Twitter.

The article also notes that outspoken Nassar survivor Rachael Denhollander "admonished Engler for his latest insensitive remarks."

"Engler references survivors enjoying their time in the spotlight," she tweeted. "You mean, like having to change the day I grocery-shop so my three kids don't see a photo of their mom demonstrating what was done to her body? Tell me more about how enjoyable this spotlight is."

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