Friday the Michigan State University Board of Trustees met for the first time since Interim President and former Governor, John Engler was ousted in early January. Acting President Satish Udpa began his first official MSU board meeting with an apology.
“I realize the need to formally apologize and to effectively atone,” said MSU acting president Udpa.
The apology was a big tone shift for the MSU Board of Trustees who have had a tumultuous relationship with survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse.
Applause filled the room multiple times while Udpa read his statement. He said this is the beginning of much-needed listening.
“We failed to comprehend and acknowledge your injuries. We were too slow to grasp the scope and enormity of the offense you endured. And we failed to treat you with respect and care you deserved even after we started to make amends," said Udpa.
Trustee Dan Kelly echoed the President’s words. He said while he knows Udpa’s words are heartfelt, he isn’t the person who needs to apologize.
“I, as a board member want to acknowledge that over the past year I’ve allowed an adversarial position between the university and the survivors," said Kelly. "That was my mistake and that’s on me. It’s not the President’s fault for having done that. So, I apologize for that.”
Kelly said he’s had meetings with a few survivors after new board members facilitated introductions.
“Again, it was probably a mistake to wait until the last two months,” he said. But, Kelly said he’s optimistic about the future and feels enlightened by hearing the perspective of some survivors.
The board also announced they would reopen the Healing Fund that provides counseling services to survivors of Nassar’s abuse in the next couple of days.
Chairwoman Dianne Byrum said the board made the decision to open an interim fund, so people can get reimbursed for the services they’ve been getting.
“In the next few days we will have at least an interim fund up and running that will have the protocols of the original fund in place so that people can start to immediately get the help that they need.
The board voted to reestablish the fund at their January meeting after closing it in December.
Public commenter’s at Friday’s meeting continued to plead for an open presidential search, but board members maintained the search would stay closed to protect applicants anonymity.
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