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MSU President Stanley's future remains unsettled following removal of business college dean

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Reginald Hardwick
/
WKAR-MSU

Updated on September 12 at 5:12 p.m. ET

Michigan State University Board of Trustees Chairperson Dianne Byrum released a statement Monday calling on President Samuel Stanley Jr. to stay at MSU. Byrum adds she believes the actions of some trustees, whom she does not name, are misguided and they should apologize for the confusion they've created.

Byrum's statement:

“In recent days, some members of the MSU Board of Trustees, for which I serve as chairperson, have created confusion over the future of our university’s president. These actions do not represent how the board of an institution of higher education should act.

MSU President Samuel Stanley has led our university through many challenges in recent years and attempts to remove him from his post before his contract is complete are misguided. I am disappointed in the behavior of some members of the board which threatens to roll back the progress MSU has made and will continue to make.

Unlike many colleges and universities, MSU has a record freshman class. We continue to climb in academic rankings. We’ve launched the FRIB. The financial measures taken by President Stanley have helped stabilize our finances which were shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have new healthcare partnerships and continue to make progress in healthcare research. We’ve taken great strides to address relationship violence and sexual misconduct and to improve the culture on campus. At MSU, we are on the move and making progress. That’s why I take strong exception to the conduct by several MSU Board of Trustees who have sought to undermine and second guess President Stanley under the mistaken belief they are somehow better qualified to run the university. They clearly are not as evidenced by the outpouring of concern, bewilderment and outrage their recent actions have generated.

It is my belief these board members should apologize, reverse course and refocus on their proper role as Trustees of this amazing institution. President Stanley should be allowed to complete his service to MSU without undo interference by the Board.“

In a separate statement Monday, Board of Trustees Vice Chair Dan Kelly called the claims of Stanley facing termination inaccurate.

“This past Friday, Board Chair Dianne Byrum, Vice-Chair Dan Kelly, and President Stanley had a brief meeting. Contrary to recent media reports, at no time was the President threatened with termination or given an ultimatum regarding his employment. The Board has made no decision regarding any change in President Stanley’s employment status nor his employment contract,” Kelly said in the statement.

Original Post: Answers have not been forthcoming about the future of Michigan State University President Samuel Stanley Jr. amid reports the Board of Trustees will fire him if he doesn’t resign.

Stanley is under fire over his approval of Provost Teresa Woodruff’s move last month to oust the dean of the Broad College of Business, Sanjay Gupta.

A university spokesperson initially described Gupta’s departure as a resignation prompted by a failure to report misconduct. The board later hired an outside counsel to investigate the administration’s handling of the issue.

The Detroit Free Press, citing anonymous sources, reported Sunday the board has given Stanley until Tuesday to resign or face being fired.

MSU spokesperson Emily Guerrant says in a statement to WKAR that the most accurate way to depict the current situation is that the Board of Trustees and Stanley are currently discussing his contract with the university.

"There is not a looming deadline by which a decision has to be made or these discussions need to wrap up. It’s on-going," Guerrant said.

Leaders of the MSU Faculty Senate have expressed concern about forcing out a third president in four years behind closed doors. The current and two former presidents of MSU’s Council of Graduate Students are also calling for a full accounting of the board’s actions.

Both Stanley and Woodruff are scheduled to speak at a special meeting of the Faculty Senate Tuesday evening.

Requests for comment from WKAR to speak with Board of Trustees Chairperson Dianne Byrum or MSU's faculty senate have gone unanswered as of Monday afternoon. The president of the Council of Graduate Students has declined to comment.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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