Simon’s departure greeted with praise, relief

Kim Kozlowski

Lansing – A mix of praise and relief greeted Michigan University State President Lou Anna Simon’s resignation Wednesday in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

State House Speaker Tom Leonard, who was among those who had called for Simon to step down, credited Nassar’s victims, many of who spoke out against MSU’s handling of the allegations against Nassar.

“Thank you to all the brave victims who have continued to step forward,” he said on Twitter. “Without your courage, this wouldn't have happened.”

Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm said in a Tweet that Simon acted in MSU’s best interest by resigning.

“While I know LouAnna Simon at @michiganstateu to be a good person, for the good of the university she is very much doing the right thing in stepping down,” Granholm wrote. “A fresh start with extreme clarity is in order.”

Brian Breslin, chairman of the MSU trustees, said in a statement that Simon would stay on during the transition to a new president.

“She left in a first-class way and we’re happy that she is going to help us with the transition and help with the healing for everyone, and all the victims,” Joel Ferguson, vice chairman of the trustees, told The Detroit News in an interview Wednesday night.

Ferguson said the trustees would meet at 10 a.m. Friday to discuss choosing an interim president.

In a statement posted on Twitter, trustee Brian Mosallam said he hoped Simon’s departure would help Nassar’s victims heal.

“Because of the heroism and courage of Rachael Denhollander and all of the survivors, today with the sentencing of Larry Nassar and the resignation of President Lou Anna Simon, I am hopeful that these women will begin to feel as if they have received justice for the wrongs which were committed against them,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, who was among the legislative leaders who had urged Simon to quit, said her departure was needed for victims to begin healing and for MSU to prevent a recurrence of crimes like Nassar’s.

“This is a necessary step to take in order for the university to begin seriously addressing a broken system that allowed more than 160 young women to be sexually assaulted by a university employee,” Ananich said.

“Survivors deserve to be heard. Survivors also deserve assurance that the people in charge of their education and safety—all the way to the very top — will be held accountable.”

In a statement, the president of MSU’s student government praised Simon “for her dedicated and tireless leadership.”

“Under Dr. Simon’s leadership, Spartans of yesterday and today have benefitted in more ways than one and the many opportunities in and outside of the classroom that have been provided,” wrote Lorenzo Santavicca. “It goes without saying that we have much to address in the current state of Michigan State University.”’

Not everyone was complimentary toward Simon.

Posting on Twitter, journalist and author John U. Bacon called Simon’s letter announcing her resignation “clueless to the end” and said she “has no idea how incriminating her statement is.”

He quoted part of her letter: “As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable. As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger. I understand, and that is why I have limited my personal statements.”