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MSU Official: Former Gov. John Engler To Be Named Interim President

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Former Gov. John Engler

Former Gov. John Engler will be named the interim president of Michigan State University amid the fallout over sexual assaults committed by former sports doctor Larry Nassar, a high-ranking school official involved in the board of trustees' plan said Tuesday.

The official told The Associated Press that the board will vote to hire Engler on Wednesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been publicly announced.
President Lou Anna Simon resigned last week, and the board named vice president Bill Beekman as acting president.

Engler, a 69-year-old Michigan State graduate, served as Michigan's Republican governor from 1991 through 2002 and later led the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable in Washington, D.C. He will head the school as it confronts civil lawsuits filed by more than 100 women and girls, and investigations by the state attorney general, the NCAA and Congress. Athletic director Mark Hollis retired last week.

Engler is expected to serve while the elected board of four Democrats and four Republicans searches for a permanent president.

Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison last week at the end of an extraordinary seven-day hearing at which more than 150 women and girls said he had molested them under the guise of medical treatment. Nassar worked for Michigan State and USA Gymnastics, treating numerous athletes including some Olympians. Victims blamed Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee for not doing more earlier to stop him.

Reacting to several media reports that Engler will be named to the post, state House Speaker Tom Leonard, a DeWitt Republican, said in a statement that the former governor is the "right choice."

"He is a strong leader with a proven track record of reform, and the school needs someone who is able to come in from the outside, stand up to the status quo and make immediate changes," he said. "I look forward to working with the interim president on new reforms that will better protect women, the students at MSU and the local community."

Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette, whose office prosecuted Nassar and is criminally investigating how Michigan State handled past complaints by Nassar's accusers, also applauded the selection of Engler, citing his "integrity, toughness and intellect." Schuette is running for governor this year and has come under criticism for not launching a review of Michigan State much earlier.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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