LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Rema Vassar, Chair of the Michigan State University Board of Trustees, has responded to allegations of ethics violations brought forward by a letter to the board written by Trustee Brianna Scott.
The Detroit News reports Vassar responded with a letter of her own, which says the claims made by Scott and “two of her enablers” are “fabrications, misstatements, innuendo, and untruths.”
“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 said in her written statement.
Scott sent her letter to the MSU Board of Trustees on Sunday. It cited 10 reasons why Vassar should resign or be removed as board chair, including bullying and going beyond her authority. Scott added that Vassar didn’t resign, she should be removed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Whitmer responded to the allegations on Monday, saying “If they are accurate, it would be a huge breach of the public’s trust.”
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.
MSU Board vice chair Dan Kelly, who chairs the Board of Trustees Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee, said on Monday that the allegations in Scott’s letter have sparked an internal investigation into Vassar’s actions.
The violations made by Vassar that demand resignation, according to Scott’s letter, include:
- Not allowing her phone to be reviewed as part of an investigation into the allegation that a trustee leaked the identity of Brenda Tracy, who accused former MSU football coach Mel Tucker of sexual harassment.
- Allegedly attempting to lead talks to settle a lawsuit against MSU by former MSU business school dean Sanjay Gupta without the authority from interim MSU President Teresa Woodruff or other board members.
- Posing with former MSU Trustee Brian Mosallam in an advertisement for a business owned by him, Spartan Wealth Management Group, which congratulated her being elected as chair.
- Traveling on official MSU business on two occasions on an MSU donor’s private jet alongside Tucker.
Vassar denied leaking Tracy’s identity and said Jones Day was hired to look into the alleged leak of Tracy’s name to the media by a board member, among other sensitive university information leaks.
“To be clear, as I have said before, I had no involvement with the alleged leak and am not aware of any Trustees knowing the identity of Brenda Tracy prior to its public dissemination,” Vassar said in her statement.
Scott also criticized Vassar for a text conversation with former trustee Pat O’Keefe, which Scott alleges shows Vassar’s desire to have Woodruff removed as interim president.
“Again, contrary to Trustee Scott’s characterization, the text exchange was one-sided with no input from me,” Vassar said. “While her letter seeks to make me responsible for the statements of others, Trustee Scott’s position lacks factual support. I have been steadfast in my duty to ensure confidentiality in all RSVM (relationship, violence & sexual misconduct) matters.”
Vassar concludes her letter by saying she regrets further publicizing the dispute between her and Scott, but could not “allow these meritless allegations to go unaddressed.”