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MSU President Samuel Stanley Jr. is resigning, three years after he was hired in wake of Nassar scandal

Michigan State University President Samuel Stanley Jr. announces his resignation in a Youtube video posted by the university on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022.
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Michigan State University
Michigan State University President Samuel Stanley Jr. announces his resignation in a Youtube video posted by the university on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022.

Updated on October 13 at 6:00 p.m. ET

The president of Michigan State University announced his resignation Thursday, three years after he was hired in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal.

Samuel Stanley Jr. said he has lost confidence in the school's governing board and can no longer serve.

“I gave my contractually required 90-day notice of resignation,” Stanley said in a video announcement.

Since summer, Stanley has been under fire by some trustees, namely for the departure of a business school dean. He said Sanjay Gupta was removed because there were “failures of leadership” related to Title IX, the federal law that bars sex discrimination in programs that receive federal aid.

But the Michigan State board recently took the extraordinary step of hiring a law firm to investigate Gupta's removal. Some trustees in September also urged Stanley to step down, despite two years remaining on his contract.

In response, no-confidence votes against the board were approved by the Faculty Senate and Michigan State's student government. When the law firm requested interviews with university employees, Stanley and the university’s provost told the board to cease from interfering with faculty.

“The actions of the campus over the past month have shown the world that Michigan State University will not accept micromanagement by board members of the operations of this great institution," Stanley said Thursday.

Associated Students of Michigan State University spokesperson Brandi Stover says Stanley voiced the same sentiment in his resignation.

“That’s a huge portion of campus and we just feel incredibly frustrated and upset with the lack of accountability and the lack of transparency from the board overall,” Stover said.

Stover said students are often left in the dark when it comes to MSU leadership and that moving forward, the association won’t put up with the status quo.

“I hope the board realizes from this situation that they are being held accountable on campus and that this trend of making decisions behind closed doors is not one that’s acceptable and that people on campus want to see a change,” Stover said.

She adds that ASMSU is sad to see Stanley leave but hopes the impending search for a new president offers students the chance to give their input.

“What we want more than anything is for students to have a seat at the table because student voices are the majority of the voices on campus and they deserve to be respected, they deserve to be listened to by our leaders,” Stover said.

In a statement released after Stanley announced his resignation, the board said it appreciated Stanley’s leadership at the university throughout difficult times over the last three years.

“The Board of Trustees will work cooperatively with President Stanley during this transition and more details will be shared with the campus community as information is available,” the trustees wrote.

University trustees are picked in statewide elections. Democrats have a 5-3 edge.

Stanley was president of Stony Brook University in New York when he was hired three years ago at 50,000-student Michigan State in East Lansing, Michigan.

The school was trying to recover from a scandal involving Nassar, a campus sports doctor, who was accused of sexually assaulting hundreds of women and girls, including Olympic gymnasts, at Michigan State, a local gymnastics club and USA Gymnastics. He pleaded guilty and is serving decades in prison.

Critics said Michigan State had missed opportunities to investigate complaints about Nassar. The school settled lawsuits for $500 million.

Lou Anna Simon resigned as president in 2018, just hours after Nassar was sentenced. Former Michigan Gov. John Engler was brought in as interim leader, but he lasted only a year.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
Melorie Begay is the local producer and host of Morning Edition.
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