New developments continue to emerge in the fallout from the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal that has rocked Michigan State University.
On Friday, MSU announced the suspension of Department of Radiology chair Dr. Suresh Mukherji . In a letter signed by provost June Youatt, the university said it was reviewing concerns about his “leadership and departmental communications.”
This news comes as MSU is working to revoke the tenure of Dr. William Strampel. Strampel is the former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, where Larry Nassar worked until 2016.
Now, the MSU Faculty Senate is expected to approve a vote of “no confidence” in the Board of Trustees at its next meeting on Tuesday.
WKAR’s Kevin Lavery spoke with Dr. Rob LaDuca, who serves as an at-large member of the MSU Steering Committee. LaDuca and his fellow committee members met with interim MSU president John Engler last Friday.
Dr. Robert LaDuca:
He wanted to listen to us; he wanted to take the pulse of the faculty, which in a way we represent as at-large members of the steering committee. I won’t go into specifics, but he was actually very supportive of what we brought to the table. We mentioned that we were very dissatisfied with the process that brought him into the interim president role, but that’s a reflection on the board (of trustees). That’s the board not taking into account the viewpoints of MSU stakeholders, from students to faculty to the deans. They all met with the board, and then later the next day we learned through leaks in the media that (former) Governor Engler had been selected.
So, we were extremely dissatisfied with that process, even where the board appeared to make a show of listening to the concerns. We mentioned that having a divisive political figure from either side of the aisle with no academic leadership experience...we told them in no uncertain terms that would not be a good choice. The interim president needs to be the healer. They need to put this community back together; they need to make the survivors whole with a fair and just legal settlement to their numerous lawsuits, and we don’t necessarily feel that a former governor is the best person for this role.
And how did Governor Engler respond when you told all this to him?
He understood. He said, ‘I’m in this role, I was surprised to be in this role. The board of trustees asked me; I’m a Spartan, I love MSU, I want to make things right.’ He said all the right things. He’s willing to start making some significant changes in a transparent way. I was very surprised to see a public letter suspending the chair of radiology (Dr. Suresh Mukherji) that was signed by the provost and that was put up on MSU Today, (as well as) the attempt to revoke the tenure of former (College of Osteopathic Medicine) dean (William) Strampel. I was very surprised to see that.
Former dean William Strampel had taken leave of MSU in December citing health reasons. I wonder if anyone had guessed at the time that was coming next?
Well, you read between the lines. That’s been how things have been handled in the past; somebody retires, somebody goes on leave, and you understand the undercurrents that may have led to that decision. But to actually see memos from the interim president informing dean Strampel that the process to revoke his tenure is underway...that does have to go through faculty committees. But seeing these notices go out in a more transparent fashion...it’s a good first step.
So, now the community is waiting for this meeting on Tuesday. You’ll call the question of a no confidence vote; that looks very likely to pass. The steering committee has said it will call for the resignation of the entire board of trustees. Does the faculty senate have the leverage to force a resignation? Is it a checks and balance system like our federal government?
No, it is absolutely not. The board is in place and elected through various facets of the Michigan state constitution and the will of the voters. The faculty governance of MSU has no legal weight over the board. But, we’re hoping with our moral leadership here that we can effect change and bring in potentially a board of academic leaders who know how to lead this very large university at this time of crisis.