EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees released findings from an independent investigation regarding a former dean’s resignation Friday night, however, the report was unconventionally released at 11:15 p.m.
The 104-page report was completed by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, over alleged Title IX reporting failures and the departure of former Broad College of Business Dean Sanjay Gupta.
Then-provost, now Interim President of MSU Teresa Woodruff, accused Gupta of five infractions.
Despite Woodruff’s allegations, the report only found the violation of the mandatory reporting protocol to be accurate.
The university first announced that Gupta had resigned in August 2022, before later saying that he was removed from his position. The school also announced at that time they had hired outside counsel to review his dismissal.
Gupta has since filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming he was pressured into resigning, adding that the effort was part of a scheme designed to prevent him from becoming the next president of MSU.
According to the report, there was no “definitive evidence either supporting or disproving” that Woodruff was trying to bar him as a university presidential candidate.
But why release such important news at 11:15 p.m.?
According to communications expert Stephanie Van Koevering, public relations professionals have “a little bit of rhythm” that they follow.
“If it’s good news, we are eager to get it out in the morning because we want it covered as broadly as possible,” said Van Koevering.
Van Koevering is the Vice President of Resch Strategies, a public relations firm in Lansing.
She said that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the best days for PR firms. She added that the news will often be put out before 11 a.m. so that media outlets can report them.
“If we send it out late in the day or late in the week, we know that it’s generally going to be something that media are not going to pay much attention to because the timing is simply bad for them,” Van Koevering continued.
The timing is contingent upon the workday.
“By that time, the assumption is that everybody has gone home, and it’s not going to be as well covered as it might be otherwise,” said Van Koevering.
Van Koevering said that the late-night release of the report could be one of two things.
“When we’re looking at [the] news, yes, it could be something that they’re maybe hoping to hold for a time when fewer people are paying attention,” she said. “That’s one alternative.”
But, as Van Koevering succinctly said, sometimes life happens.
“Sometimes we end up getting the news out at a time that’s less than ideal, but it’s frankly the soonest we were able to do it given an array of circumstances,” Van Koevering said.
Woodruff shared a statement Monday, saying that both she and her administration intend to review the released report in detail.
“My commitment to doing what is right and focusing on the long-term success and stability of our institution remains unchanged,” Woodruff said.
6 News did reach out to the MSU Board of Trustees Monday for comment on the release time of the report and got in touch with Chair Rema Vassar. She said the Board released it as soon as it could.
When trying to speak with Vassar on camera to get answers, she said she could talk Tuesday. However, there was no response Tuesday to the made attempts to reach her.
MSU Communications says the Board’s statement on the matter still stands.