Former Michigan Governor John Engler has been chosen for the interim president of Michigan State University Wednesday morning morning, following the Larry Nassar scandal that prompted the resignation of university president, Lou Anna Simons. Students and faculty protested the decision in droves at the university board of trustees meeting that same day.
Engler is a Republican and Michigan State University alumni who graduated in 1971 with a degree in agricultural economics. He served as Michigan’s governor from 1991 to 2002.
He was voted into the position by MSU's Board of Trustees, which consists of four Democrats and four Republicans, unanimously.
"We owe it to them to fix the problems and to change the culture so that a better MSU will be their legacy, and that they know something positive came out of their suffering," he said in a public statement Wednesday afternoon.
Despite the unanimous vote, many students and faculty at the University have criticized his selection. Students came to voice their concerns at the Board of Trustees meeting later that day in a "flood" of protest. One of these concerns, felt by faculty members and students alike, is Engler’s lack of academic credentials.
Students also worry Engler’s politician status will cause conflict on MSU’s already divided campus. At this meeting, Ashley Fuente, the president of the MSU Council of Graduate Studies, expressed this fear. "The damage that can be caused by appointing a politician on an already polarized campus is catastrophic,” she said to Fox News. “Engler has passed legislation in the past that are in direct conflict with our core values of inclusion.”
Dan Martel, president of the MSU Democrats, feels similarly, taking issue especially with Engler’s conservative views.
“For the rest of my life I will carry a diploma from Larry Nassar University, and it will be signed by somebody who is so conservative that they have been handpicked to chair the national education assessment board by Betsy DeVos,” Martel said to Michigan Radio.
Different departments of majors at MSU are coming together to hold town hall meetings in order to discuss apprehensions and ways to progress during this tumultuous time. In an email obtained by The Daily from Interim Dean of the Natural Science department Cheryl Sisk to her department, she describes the purpose of the town hall and encourages students to come together.
“The Town Hall will provide the opportunity for me to hear from you, the NatSci student body, about how you are feeling and what you are experiencing, as well as to provide updates on conversations and activities taking place at the college and university levels, and to get your thoughts and ideas on meaningful and effective ways to move forward,” she wrote.