MSU alumni chief resigns amid Title IX inquiry
One of Michigan State University’s biggest promoters — Scott Westerman, executive director of the alumni association — has resigned amid an investigation by the school’s Title IX office.
Westerman confirmed the inquiry Tuesday but said it was not a factor in his decision to step down.
“I was recently surprised to learn that I am the subject of an (Office of Institutional Equity) inquiry,” he said in a statement. “It covers a brief period near the start of my tenure, is not a police matter, and naturally, I am fully cooperating with investigators. I won’t have further comment until their work is complete. With regard to our departure, we have been planning to return to Florida for some time. The inquiry was not a factor in that decision.”
Westerman notified MSU on Tuesday of his resignation effective July 31, said spokeswoman Emily Guerrant. In his resignation letter, he indicated he will be moving to Florida to be closer to his family.
Guerrant added that a complaint was filed in February with the Office of Institutional Equity, and an investigation is underway.
“MSU is working to improve both the climate for victims to report misconduct and our process for how those complaints are handled,” Guerrant said. “We want all members of the MSU community to feel safe in coming forward when they have a concern or complaint.”
Many of those affected by the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal expressed shock at Westerman’s resignation, including Lisa Lorincz, mother of Kaylee Lorincz, one of the young women who publicly testified that Nassar assaulted her. At Friday’s MSU trustees meeting, Kaylee Lorincz accused interim President John Engler of trying to secretly settle the lawsuit she filed against the university.
Lisa Lorincz said Westerman had reached out to her in February to express concern about her daughter and seek ways to make change at MSU. He drove from East Lansing and met her in March at a cafe near her house in Shelby Township.
Lorincz said Westerman was in the middle of traveling, meeting with alumni in small groups and trying to defuse the backlash from the scandal involving Nassar, who sexually abused more than 200 young women under the guise of a medical treatment for more than 20 years.
“He was confident that things would turn around and so shocked and disappointed about the Nassar scandal,” Lorincz said. “I’m shocked.”
David Harns, who runs isportsweb.com, a sports website that covers MSU athletics, also commented on Westerman’s departure.
“Scott Westerman is leaving Michigan State University,” Harns posted on Twitter. “A man of good reputation, he now leaves under the cloud of a Title IX investigation.”
Bob Thomas, MSU’s assistant vice president of advancement marketing and communications, will serve as interim director of the MSU Alumni Association while a search for a new executive director is conducted.
Before Westerman’s appointment at MSU in January 2010, he spent more than 25 years in the cable TV industry, Guerrant said. He received his bachelor of arts degree in telecommunication from MSU in 1978.
In a personal blog post about his family published the same day that news of the investigation emerged publicly, Westerman talked about his wife’s cancer that was cured twice at Michigan State, his father entering hospice and his desire to be closer in Florida to his grandchildren, one of whom has Down syndrome.
“With the conclusion of another school year, that time has come,” Westerman wrote. “I’ve reluctantly shared my intention to leave my role as the executive director of the MSU Alumni Association and will shortly be immersing myself again in the lives of those I love most.”
Westerman, who also holds the title of associate vice president for alumni relations, has held the top post at the alumni association since Jan. 1, 2010, championing MSU’s roughly 500,000 alumni, according to his blog.
Westerman is the latest MSU official to depart in the wake of the Nassar sex abuse scandal.
William Strampel, dean of the College of Osteopathic medicine and Nassar’s former boss, took a medical leave in December and planned to return to the faculty. But he was recently indicted on charges that he used his position at MSU to harass, discriminate, proposition, sexually assault and solicit pornographic videos of female students.
Engler has moved to revoke Strampel’s tenure.
Engler was named to lead MSU after Lou Anna Simon resigned as president in late January amid a firestorm of criticism over the school’s handling of allegations regarding Nassar.
A Detroit News investigation found Simon was among 14 MSU staff members who received reports of misconduct by Nassar in the two decades before he was fired.
Shortly after Simon quit, athletic director Mark Hollis also resigned.
Nassar was fired by MSU in September 2016 and later pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct and possessing thousands of images of child pornography.
Nassar is incarcerated in a high-security federal prison in Arizona and is expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars.