Report: MSU Interim President John Engler resigning

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — A year after taking over as Michigan State University’s interim president, former Michigan governor John Engler is on his way out, the Detroit Free Press reports.

The publication says multiple sources have confirmed Engler will resign. The move comes after MSU Board Chair Dianne Byrum called a special meeting for Thursday to address his conduct.

Engler came under fire most recently for comments he made last week to The Detroit News editorial board. One of the statements generating backlash alluded to survivors of Larry Nassar's sexual abuse enjoying public attention:

"You’ve got people, they are hanging on and this has been… there are a lot of people who are touched by this, survivors who haven’t been in the spotlight," Engler told The Detroit News Friday. "In some ways, they have been able to deal with this better than the ones who’ve been in the spotlight who are still enjoying that moment at times, you know, the awards and recognition. And it’s ending. It’s almost done.”

MSU Trustee Brian Mosallam told the Associated Press Wednesday that if Engler didn’t resign, the board was going to vote to remove him.

Efforts to oust Engler failed in June. However, the new board includes three new trustees who have voiced public disagreement with at least one of Engler’s decisions.

Trustees Brianna Scott, Kelly Tebay and Nancy Schlichting signed an online petition to reinstate the Healing Assistance Fund Engler closed in December. Byrum and Mosallam added their names to the growing list of signatures, meaning a majority of the new board publicly disagreed with Engler's move.

In response, the MSU Board voted last week to create a new fund for Nassar survivors.

Engler’s comments to The Detroit News and move to close the fund aren’t the only decisions he’s made that have drawn the ire of others:

  • Jan. 31, 2018: Michigan State University announces John Engler as its interim president. At the meeting, upset faculty and students say they weren’t consulted before the decision was made.
  • Feb. 13, 2018: The MSU faculty senate holds a vote of no confidence in trustees, partly over Engler’s appointment.
  • March 15, 2018: Criticized over his stance on Nassar-inspired legislation, Engler says he wants to reach a financial settlement with victims by May, but the passage of sweeping child abuse legislation is interfering with the process and could lead to higher tuition.
  • April 13, 2018: Nassar survivor Kaylee Lorincz says Engler offered her $250,000during a March 28, 2018 meeting that took place with her and her mother.
  • May 17, 2018: When pressed on how MSU will pay the $500 million settlement with survivors of Nassar’s abuse, Engler joked, "Actually, what we're hoping to use is find a leprechaun."
  • June 13, 2018: Emails Engler sent in April are released. The messages accuse Nassar trial lawyers of manipulating Nassar survivors, and claims Kalamazoo native Rachel Denhollander will is likely to get kickback from (attorney John) Manley (sic) for her role in the trial lawyer manipulation.”
  • June 21, 2018: Engler apologizes for email statements, but says he won’t resign
  • June 22, 2018: Mosallam’s effort to oust Engler fails by a 6-2 vote. Mosallam and Byrum are the only trustees who vote in favor of firing him.
  • July 5, 2018: Engler defends his role at MSU and says he has no plans to resign in a one-on-one interview with 24 Hour News 8’s Lynsey Mukomel.
  • Dec. 5, 2018: Engler closes the Healing Assistance Fund after the university freezed it in July to investigate fraud claims. Engler says the  remaining $8.5 million will be transferred to the settlement fund.

This is a breaking news story. We have crew heading to East Lansing and we are working to learn more. Check back for updates on woodtv.com and 24 Hour News 8, beginning at 5 p.m.

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