GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After a week of heightening tensions, two Michigan State University trustees are officially calling for interim president John Engler to resign.
Dianne Byrum issued the following statement Friday morning:
“The despicable and disparaging comments made about survivors by Interim President John Engler are completely unacceptable. Yesterday I called upon the interim president to apologize for these hurtful remarks, he failed to do so, and therefore I have concluded he is no longer the right person to lead Michigan State University during this difficult period.”
Brian Mosallam was the first trustee to call for Engler's resignation.
In an emailed statement received shortly before 8 a.m. Friday, Mosallam wrote, "I no longer believe that John Engler’s presence on this campus will allow Michigan State University to move forward. We need leadership that sets a tone of empathy and compassion towards our courageous survivors, and [re-embraces] them as important members of our Spartan community. John Engler simply can no longer do that."
The call comes after newly-released emails showed the former Michigan governor accused Rachael Denhollander -- the first woman to publicly accuse Larry Nassar of sexual abuse -- of receiving "kickbacks" from attorneys and helping them "manipulate" other plaintiffs in an email exchange with a top aide at the university.
Mosallam was also named in that same email thread for not doing enough to support the interim president. He has been the most vocal trustee to call for positive change on MSU's campus.
The emails were sent shortly after the April board of trustees meeting. It was during that meeting Kaylee Lorincz accused Engler of offering her a settlement without her attorney present.
Since then, the university reached a $500 million settlement with 332 women and girls listed as plaintiffs in lawsuits filed against MSU. It is still unclear how the university will pay the settlement.
In a statement released Friday, Engler made no mention of any intentions to step down:
“I continue to look ahead. Whatever the tensions were before, we have successfully negotiated a settlement agreement — something that is fair and equitable to both sides, and that both sides agreed to. We are now committed to continuing our efforts to strengthen sexual misconduct prevention on and off campus and to respond promptly to and appropriately if prevention fails.
"I am looking forward to the Board of Trustee meeting next week where we will continue our progress and efforts to move forward. I believe actions matter, and that is how the success of our work will be determined.”
24 Hour News 8 reached out to MSU Trustee Mitch Lyons Thursday and Friday; the Rockford native hasn't responded.