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Vassar elected chair of MSU Board of Trustees

The MSU board of trustees met on Wednesday to elect leadership for the next two years.
Scott Pohl
The MSU Board of Trustees met on Wednesday to elect leadership for the next two years.

The Michigan State University Board of Trustees has chosen its new leader.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Trustee Rema Vassar won the election to chair the MSU board 5-to-3 over colleague Renee Knake Jefferson, in what appeared to be a vote that came down to the wire. Trustee Brianna Scott pondered for nearly a full minute before casting her vote for Vassar.

Vassar will serve as chair for two years. She becomes the first Black woman to lead the board.

Vassar emotionally cited her mother and grandmother in noting the historic nature of her election.

“Sitting in this seat today is pretty remarkable,” Vassar stated. “So, I just appreciate you all giving me that trust, and I appreciate an opportunity to make history today.”

In comments late in the meeting, Knake Jefferson was magnanimous.

“I pledge to be a real support, both for you chair Vassar, and also for you, interim President (Teresa) Woodruff, as we lead this institution forward,” she said.

Dan Kelly was reelected unanimously for another term as vice chair. Kelly is now the only Republican on the board.

This was the first meeting for new trustees Dennis Denno and Sandy Pierce.

The board faces important tasks in 2023, including a search for a permanent university president. There is also the continuing controversy over the board’s investigation into dismissal of the Broad College of Business dean, and the ongoing effort by supporters of the MSU swim and dive program to get the team reinstated.

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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