Michigan State faculty, ASMSU and CoREM denounce plans to oust President Stanley

EAST LANSING — Michigan State University faculty leaders expressed “serious” concern Sunday night about plans announced by the board of trustees to oust President Samuel Stanley Jr.

The Detroit Free Press reported Sunday that MSU’s board of directors gave Stanley until Tuesday to step down. If he doesn’t, Stanley could be fired, according to the story. On Monday afternoon, Stanley remained at the university as president. He was hired in May 2019 after serving as president of Stony Brook University.

In response to the Free Press report, MSU’s Faculty Senate released a statement Sunday night questioning the board’s reported plans and lack of communication. Members of MSU’s Student Associates and MSU’s Racial and Ethnic Minority Coalition also released statements Monday in support of Stanley.

“We are gravely concerned by the directors’ reported intent to oust Chairman Samuel L. Stanley Jr. in less than four years. They should know better,” the statement from the faculty said. “Extraordinary actions require extraordinary justifications. Given our special role in achieving our university’s mission, MSU faculty deserve and demand the transparency that the Board of Trustees claims to value.

MSU’s Faculty Senate declined to comment beyond the statement. The Faculty Senate has scheduled a special meeting for 7 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the matter.

None of MSU’s eight board members returned calls or emails seeking comment on Monday.

Emily Gerkin Guerrant, vice president of media and public information and MSU spokesperson, on Twitter on Monday denied allegations that Stanley had until Tuesday to resign or face possible dismissal.

“This is not a factual statement. President Stanley and the MSU Board of Directors are currently discussing his contract. That’s it,” she tweeted in response to an Inside Higher Ed tweet saying that Stanley would be expelled.

Sunday’s reports of Stanley’s ousting drew additional criticism from student associates at MSU, the university’s student government body.

“The culture of decisions being made behind closed doors without the voice of all parties involved is abhorrent,” ASMSU said in a statement. “It damages the trust of members of the community in this institution, especially students. Many of us came to Michigan State University with a promise of progress, a promise in which transparency would be the key to restoring trust between students, faculty, staff and administration. This promise has been broken continuously, with decisions being made on behalf of students without their voices being heard.”

The Coalition of Racial and Ethnic Minority Faculty and Staff Organizations at MSU reiterated the call for transparency from the Faculty Senate.

“While MSU is not perfect, under the leadership of President Stanley and his administration, MSU has made progress toward a more inclusive campus community,” according to a statement from the coalition. “A culture of secrecy and closed doors, where the voices of those affected by such decisions are excluded, can no longer be tolerated at MSU. As we welcome record numbers of students to campus, we need to vigilance and an ongoing commitment to keeping MSU a welcoming and safe campus. To that end, we at CoREM are committed to holding MSU and its members accountable for the policies and values ​​we espouse.”

Reports of Stanley’s potential ouster come after The dean of the Broad College of Business, Sanjay Gupta, resigned on August 12.

But in a separate Aug. 30 statement, board member Dan Kelly said Gupta’s removal was “implemented by the university provost with the support of the president.” Kelly said the statement was sent “on behalf of an overwhelming majority of board members,” adding that the board retained outside legal counsel to review the decisions that led to Gupta’s departure.

The university came under fire after Gupta withdrew. In an August 19 letter to the board of trustees, 21 senior faculty at the Broad College of Business disputed allegations that Gupta failed to meet mandatory reporting requirements and called on MSU to initiate an independent internal investigation.

Sources also told the Free Press that there are other issues with the handling of internal investigations and reporting requirements to MSU’s Office of Institutional Equity and the Office of Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct.

MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, speaks Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, during an interview on the back porch of Cowles House on the Michigan State University campus.

Board chair Dianne Byrum publicly reviewed the outcome of Stanley’s performance review about a year ago, saying the board was “grateful” to have Stanley at the helm. MSU.

“If the trustees’ view of the president has changed so drastically since then, we should know why,” the faculty senate wrote in the statement.

The board of trustees met on Friday and approved the appointment of Judith Whipple, acting associate dean for the faculty and doctoral programs at the College of Business, as acting dean by a 5-2 vote. Trustees Dan Kelly and Pat O’Keefe, both Republicans, voted against the nomination, and Trustee Rema Vassar, a Democrat, abstained.

Both Kelly and O’Keefe wanted to see the investigation completed before appointing anyone to the position, even on an interim basis.

In addition, Eric Scorsone, who served as secretary and chief of staff to the board of trustees, left his position on September 9, according to Dan Olsen, a spokesman for the university. Scorsone returned to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources as a faculty member.

Scorsone became secretary and chief of staff on February 1, replacing Brian Quinn. The position of secretary serves as a liaison between the board of trustees and the administration of the university. Scorsone could not immediately be reached for comment.

The handling of sexual misconduct cases is what led to the expulsion of the two previous MSU presidents.

Lou Anna Simon was forced out of MSU in January 2018 during the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal. John Engler was named his interim replacement, but resigned after criticizing his handling of the Nassar fallout.

Contact Mark Johnson at 517-377-1026 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @ByMarkJohnson.