© 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's faculty and staff urge Governor Gretchen Whitmer to remove trustees

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 Friday's public meeting.

Michigan State University’s faculty and staff are asking Governor Gretchen Whitmer to remove two members of the university’s Board of Trustees.

Michigan State University’s largest faculty governing body has overwhelmingly voted in favor of removing Board Chair Rema Vassar and Trustee Dennis Denno from the board of trustees.

The vote was held over a seven-day period last week with 1512 members of the Academic Congress voting in favor of and 55 against the trustee’s removal. The resolution alleges the trustees violated their fiduciary responsibility as outlined in an external investigation of alleged misconduct on the board.

“Over 1500 people said yes to this resolution,” said Jack Lipton, chair of MSU’s faculty senate. “That it's important enough to send it to the governor so that they know that this is a real danger to the university to continue down this route.”

Miller & Chevalier, a law firm based in Washington, D.C., was tasked by the Board to conduct a review of allegations of misconduct raised by Trustee Brianna Scott. In a public letter last year, Scott accused Vassar of bullying and of exceeding her authority.

The 66-page independent investigation found that Vassar and Denno overstepped their authority multiple times and created a “fear of retaliation” when they encouraged students to campaign against former interim president Teresa Woodruff and Lipton.

“So it seems like because I'm doing my job, I am being attacked in these ways,” said Lipton. “So it's chilling towards people who would want to take on a leadership job like this… this feels like it's being done to scare people away from leadership and academic governance.”

In March, the Board of Trustees voted to censure Vassar and Denno and referred them for removal by the governor.

“The Academic Congress, in this resolution, voted to endorse those actions,” Lipton explained.

The matter will now head to the University Council for review.

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!