CLOSE

Larry Nassar survivors and their parents erupted in calls for the Michigan State board to four John Engler. "Shame on you," mother Leslie Miller said.
     Matthew Dae Smith, Lansing State Journal

John Engler will resign as interim president of Michigan State University, multiple sources for the Free Press on Wednesday.

The move comes hours after the board set a special meeting for early Thursday morning with the intent to fire him, the sources said.

Engler has been under heavy criticism for the past year, since he took over for Lou Anna Simon, who resigned under heavy criticism for her act of the Larry Nassar sexual assaults scandal

After setting the board meeting for 8 a.m.

Engler and MSU spokeswoman Emily Guerrant did not return requests for comment.

Board members are expected to name a replacement for angels during the Thursday meeting, source told the Free Press.

It's a meeting that has been practically practiced since the day of Engler took over as interim president at his alma mater.

Read more:

Like Simon, much of Engler's tenure has been taken up with the Nassar scandal and heavy criticism from survivors of Nassar's abuse. Engler survived a motion to fire him this summer, but the criticism has not abated.

Once the meeting was announced, board member Brian Mosallam, the leading critic of Engler, told the Free Press the time had come for Angels to leave

"John Engler's reign of terror is over," said Mosallam, who has been pushing for Engler's departure for nearly a year. "Michigan State University will be returned to its people."

The latest round of criticism came after Angels told the Detroit News editorial board that Nassar survivors were "enjoying the spotlight" while the university is "trying to go back to work."

That launched a fresh set of criticism on Social media and elsewhere from those who believe Engler should be gone

Twenty-three of MSU's top academic administrators – mostly deans of various colleges and schools – signed a letter sent to the board Wednesday demanding that Engler be replaced. "The pattern of comments by interim President Engler, including his most recent statement suggesting that some of the survivors of sexual abuse are" enjoying "the spotlight, further the very people it is our responsibility to support," the letter said. "We don't support his continued leadership."

The advocacy group ReclaimMSU cheered the news that Engler was likely on his way out. It has been calling for his removal for months.

"He was a known entity," said Betsy Riley, a graduate student with the group. "He was a conscious choice by the board to play defense."

The group was like the board to engage various groups around the campus in the search for an interim president.

"They say," trust us, " Riley said. "We can't trust them."

Engler was hired as interim president at the university.

Last January, MSU was reeling from heavy criticism for its lack of action. towards Nassar, to form MSU, after hundreds of victims showed up to testify in court about how Nassar had sexually assaulted them

Hours after Nassar was sentenced on criminal charges, Simon stepped down and the board looked for an interim replacement

The board had two possibilities – forms Michigan Gov. John Engler, a Republican, and forms Michigan Gov. Jim Blanchard, a Democrat. Both were alumni with long ties to the school. But the state Legislature, then controlled by Republicans, made it clear to MSU – their angels get ready to lose millions of dollars in state aid.

In a closed-door meeting, Democratic board member Joel Ferguson – a Lansing powerbroker with ties to Engler – flipped his vote to Engler, giving him a 5-3 majority. Later that week, in a public vote, all eight board members voted for Engler to start

In a press conference after being hired, Engler promised that "change is coming" and that he would "move forward if my own daughter" were on this campus. "

Over the course of the next year, Engler criticized for a number of his critics saw as missteps.

Among them:

  • Angels canceled a $ 10 million healing fund set up to help pay for counseling for Nassar survivors. In doing so, he cited what he said was fraudulent in the system and said after the survivors got a $ 500 million settlement from MSU, they didn't need the fund to pay for their counseling. Earlier this month, the MSU board rescinded this action and reinstated the fund. from attorneys for filing a lawsuit against MSU. When it was released in June, it brought new round of calls to the four angels, including one from now Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
  • In April, Nassar survivor said Kaylee Lorincz said Engler offered her $ 250,000 to drop her lawsuit. After Lorincz made the offer public and was highly critical of it, a top Engler aide sent a private email obtained by the Free Press in which she said any such claims were "fake news" and made up by survivors.
  • After announcing he was a chief compliance officer position to be independent and work as a check on MSU, Engler folded it into an existing office and reportedly did not give the resources the CCO asked for to run the operation.
  • When the school's alumni magazine created an issue dedicated to the Nassar scandal, including several pieces of critical of MSU's action of the issue, Engler canceled the issue. Instead an issue with a lengthy question-and-answer piece with Engler focusing on what he called the positive changes he had been making at MSU robbery.
  • Angels drew complaints for his hiring, with many saying he brought in his friends and political allies. It was a three-year contract given to Bob Young, whom Engler had appointed to the state 's Supreme Court when he was governor. Critics said Engler should not have given out contracts more than the time he was expected to be at the school.
  • When the head of MSU's Title IX office – the department dealing with sexual assault on campus – left, Engler appointed Rob Kent as the interim head. Kent had been working in the school's general counsel office and had defended the school in various lawsuits brought against the school by sexual assault survivors who allegedly did not follow proper procedures. After MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis stepped down, Engler named Bill Beekman, then the secretary to the MSU board, as acting athletic director. He promised a national search. Later, Angels hired Beekman, who had no experience running an athletic department, without doing a national search. He said he made the move because the school's coaches, including head basketball coach Tom Izzo and head football coach Mark Dantonio, wanted Beekman to have the job.
  • After a lawsuit was filed against MSU by a sexual assault survivor, MSU released a statement about the case detailing the visits of the person filing the suit to MSU's counseling center, most likely violation of federal student privacy laws. Internal emails obtained by the Free Press showed Engler was involved in the crafting of that statement.

"We believe the board should be four angels," MSU faculty member Anna Pegler Gordon, representing the group ReclaimMSU, said during public comment at a Jan. 9 board meeting. She said the group believed in angels had been unsympathetic to Nassar survivors.

Contact David Jesse: 313-222-8851 or djesse@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter: @reporterdavidj

Read or Share this story: https://www.freep.com/story/news/education/2019/01/16/john-engler-resigns-msu-president/2594498002/