LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she has deep concerns about the way the Michigan State University Board of Trustees is being run.
That’s after a report in The Detroit News in which at least two trustees are calling on board chair Rema Vassar to resign.
In a letter to her fellow trustees, Trustee Brianna Scott accused Vassar of “violating the board’s rules of conduct and ethics, and bullying board members and administrators.” She also encourages the board to remove Vassar as chair.
The Detroit News says Trustee Dianne Byrum supports Scott’s call for Vassar’s resignation as chair, and says Trustee Dennis Denno backs Vassar.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer, an MSU alum, says she’s troubled by the accusations.
The allegations in yesterday’s report are deeply concerning. If accurate, it would be a huge breach of the public’s trust. This university has been rocked by scandal after scandal with no clear unified leadership or direction and tragically no accountability either. Right now, there are too many questions and not enough answers. The university owes it to students, alumni, and our entire state to get to the bottom of this and take appropriate action.Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.)
Vassar was elected to the board in 2020 and took office in 2021. She took over as chair of the Board of Trustees in 2023. Her seat on the board won’t be up for election until 2028.
Byrum, who used to represent mid-Michigan in the state legislature, was first elected to the Board of Trustees in 2008. She chaired the board for several years before giving up the gavel in 2023. Her seat will be up for election in 2024.
The Board of Trustees has been criticized in recent years for its handling of the Larry Nassar scandal, its appointment of former governor John Engler as interim president, and actions that led to the ousting of Samuel Stanley as president. Stanley cited the board as his reason for departing.
“Many of you will be profoundly disappointed by this decision, but I, like the Michigan State University Faculty Senate, and the Associated Students of Michigan State University, have lost confidence in the action of the current Board of Trustees, and I cannot in good conscience continue to serve this board as constituted,” Stanley said in October of 2022. The school’s Faculty Senate and student government also held votes say they had “no confidence” in the board at that time.
Basketball legend and MSU alum Earvin “Magic” Johnson expressed his own frustration with the university over recent events on social media:
“I’m disappointed with my alma mater Michigan State University. There is no excuse for this. Where is the accountability? As a former Spartan, we have to be better for the students, faculty, alumni and the community!”
A recent report following the February mass shooting at MSU also suggested some board members “wanted to help but became involved in the incident beyond the customary role and expectations of a governance board during an emergency.”
6 News has reached out to the Trustees in question and Michigan State University and has yet to receive a comment about any of the allegations.