Top leadership at Michigan State University has been in lingo for the last year as fallout from the Larry Nassar scandal forced its former president, Lou Anna K. Simon to step down, making former governor John Engler interim president.
But the effort to find a permanent president is underway as we speak and on Wednesday, we got a glimpse of who will be making decisions.
That team of men and women are deans, trustees, faculty members, alumni, and students at MSU.
And although many of them have expressed interest in being on the committee and part of the process, some of the survivors of Nassar’s sexual abuse tell 6 News they were not asked.
At Wednesday’s news conference on the presidential search, 6 News asked MSU Trustee Dianne Byrum about that.
“The voices and the compassion for the survivors are expressed in every single member on the search committee,” she said. “Their backgrounds are those of inclusion and mental health, psychiatry as well as sexual violence against women and children and criminal justice across the search committee.”
Byrum continued: “We’ve also met with the expert task force on RVSM the sexual violence, sexual assault experts on campus and we are going to take from them their best practices and recommendations on how we get input from across the MSU community.”
Byrum is one of four trustees on the committee. The others include Trustees Melanie Foster, Joel Ferguson, and Dan Kelly.
Ferguson has come under fire for several comments he’s publicly made about the hundreds of women sexually abused by Nassar and the lawsuit they brought against the university.
Kaylee Lorincz, one of the many outspoken Nassar survivors, said Ferguson’s position on the board is an “insult to survivors.”
“He’s called us ambulance chasers,” she said. “He has no place being on that committee.”
Lorincz said she has offered to volunteer her time to help the university in its search and has done so through emails and conversations she’s had with them.
She believes herself and other Nassar survivors could bring opinions and insight to the board from an outside perspective that would be beneficial in helping to move MSU forward.
Lorincz said that while she’s hopeful for the future of leadership at MSU, she’s disappointed to hear Nassar survivors will not directly be involved in the process.
“It’s disappointing that not only myself that I wasn’t asked but none of the survivors were asked and I know that myself on multiple occasions in what I’ll add, some of the other girls have offered to help with anything that they need like a presidential search, so it’s extremely disappointing that their actions don’t back up their words,” she said.
“They really haven’t heard our voices,” Lorincz continued. “I’ve offered to President Engler in that meeting that we had in March that I’m willing to help them in any way that I can.”
All members of the committee are affiliated with MSU. Lorincz believes there needs to be an outside perspective.
“Looking at it through a different set of eyes,” she said.
In September, interviews for presidential search firms will be held and a firm will be selected. MSU will continue gathering input on the presidential search from community stakeholders in both small and large groups through the summer and continuing into October.
Presidential candidates will be identified for interviews between November of this year and January 2019. It is the goal of the Board of Trustees to have a new president announced no later than June 2019.
The entire Michigan State University community, including students, faculty, staff and alumni can follow the presidential search process online here.