© 2024 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

MSU board Chair Rema Vassar denies allegations of misconduct

Interim MSU President Teresa K. Woodruff (left) listens as Board President Rema Vassar speaks during Friday's public meeting.
Kevin Lavery
Interim MSU President Teresa K. Woodruff (left) listens as Board President Rema Vassar speaks during a public meeting.

Michigan State University Board of Trustees Chair Rema Vassar calls the allegations made against her "fabrications, misstatements, innuendo and untruths."

Last week, MSU Trustee Brianna Scott wrote a letter to her colleagues accusing Vassar of acting outside of her authority as chair. Trustee Dan Kelly, who chairs the board's audit, risk and compliance committee, announced the university initiated a review Monday to investigate the claims.

MSU Trustee Dianne Byrum is the only other member of the board who has publicly supported Scott's letter.

Now, Vassar is addressing some of the allegations in a letter she sent to the media Monday evening.

"At a time where we have a responsibility to show leadership on a Presidential search, our Title IX roles and responsibilities, a search for a head football coach, and lawsuits both pending and imminent, three Board members are focused on what I can only guess are personal grievances," Vassar wrote.

Vassar's response to Scott's allegations

MSU Trustee Brianna Scott. She started her eight-year term in 2019.
MSU Trustee Brianna Scott. She started her eight-year term in 2019.

Scott claims that Vassar attempted to negotiate a settlement with the school’s former business dean Sanjay Gupta without consulting the rest of the board. Gupta was ousted as dean last year, after he was accused of failing to report an incident of sexual harassment at the university.

Vassar claims the Board has consistently been engaged on the ongoing matter.

"Settlement communications are confidential and Ms. Scott, an attorney, should not have raised this in a letter she distributed to the public," Vassar wrote.

Scott also alleges that the board chair attempted to keep information from being released on an independent review of MSU’s response to the February mass shooting that occurred at the school.

Vassar says it was another trustee that raised questions about the contents and methodology of the report. Still, the board chair supports the inquiry.

"A core obligation of the Board is to ensure the safety of our community and it was appropriate to engage the firm on the contents of their report— particularly as the specific request was for recommendations around our roles during crises," Vassar stated in her letter.

In Scott's letter, she further alleges that Vassar breached the Board's ethics policy when she traveled to New York City in a private jet belonging to MSU donors during the 2023 NCAA March Madness men's basketball tournament.

In response, Vassar says the board does not have a policy regarding private travel to MSU events. She claims she was invited by the donor as a friend.

Scott also accuses Vassar of intimidating MSU’s interim president Teresa Woodruff. Vassar rejects the accusation, calling the bullying allegation "coded language."

"And as the first African American woman ever elected to chair this Board, it is very disappointing that instead of showing unity and a steady hand during a tough time for our university, three members of our MSU Board of Trustees are more focused on undermining me instead of working together to do the job we were elected or
appointed to do," Vassar wrote.

Read Vassar's full statement

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
Journalism at this station is made possible by donors who value local reporting. Donate today to keep stories like this one coming. It is thanks to your generosity that we can keep this content free and accessible for everyone. Thanks!