MSU names presidential search committee, faces criticism
East Lansing -- Michigan State University named a 19-member committee Wednesday to search for the school's next permanent president in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal, and it already is facing criticism.
The committee includes Mark A. Murray, the past president of Grand Valley State University; Katherine Rifiotis, president of Associated Students of MSU; and Thomas Glasmacher, a professor, laboratory director and project director of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.
It also includes MSU Trustees Dan Kelly and Joel Ferguson; Ferguson sparked a backlash by saying there are so many other things going on at the university than "just this Nassar thing."
But Morgan McCaul, a Nassar survivor who attends the University of Michigan, questioned how a Nassar victim was not invited to join the committee — especially since so many of them have rallied for openness and transparency as the university moved forward.
"It's important to include the voices that stood up very personally in this matter, especially when you have someone like Joel Ferguison on the search committee," said McCaul, 18.
Dianne Byrum, co-chair of the search committee, said the panel includes no Nassar victims because, to her knowledge, none reached out and asked to be part of the search.
"We made sure everyone shared the compassion of the survivors and their background and experience ... We are highly confident that sensitivity is there," Byrum said.
She added that the committee will go through training and counselors will attend upcoming listening sessions
Byrum and Trustee Melanie Foster announced the committee, which will find candidates to replace Interim President John Engler. The former Republican governor took over at MSU in February after Lou Anna Simon resigned the night that Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina handed Nassar a prison sentence of 40-175 years -- one of three terms the former MSU doctor received.
“Our commitment to the university community was to identify a search committee that is inclusive, diverse and representative of the broader MSU stakeholders, including students, staff, faculty, deans and alumni, and we have done that,” Byrum said.
Added Foster, the other committee co-chair: “We approached organizing the search committee as one Spartan community and sought input from students, faculty, staff and the broader MSU community."
Search committee members will participate in campus listening sessions and provide input on the selection of a search firm. Members will also help compile the characteristics and qualities desired in MSU’s next president and provide input on the position description, as well as screen and interview applicants to advance a pool of candidates to the Board of Trustees for further consideration.
MSU has faced continuing controversy over its handling of allegations against Nassar, a former sports doctor who worked at the university for more than two decades. The school reached a $500 million settlement in May with more than 330 women who accused Nassar of sexually assaulting them.
Nassar is serving a de facto life term after pleading guilty to state charges of first-degree criminal sexual assault and federal charges of possessing child pornography.
In late June, Byrum and Foster laid out a timetable that called for hiring MSU's 21st president by June 2019. At the time, Byrum said Engler, a lightning rod in the campus community since he was hired six months ago, would not be part of the search for his permanent successor.
In September, the search firms will be interviewed and one will be selected.
By October, a profile of the position will be finalized and made public.
Nominations will be accepted through a website that went live in late June.
Candidates will be identified and interviewed initially between November 2018 and January 2019 before the board conducts final interviews between February and May 2019.
Other members of the MSU Presidential Search Committee:
-- Debra Bittner, president, Clerical-Technical Union of Michigan State University
-- Pero Gaglo Dagbovie, University Distinguished Professor of history and associate dean, Graduate School
-- Prabu David, dean, College of Communication Arts and Sciences
-- Mary Finn, director and professor, School of Criminal Justice
-- Linda Hubbard, president and CEO, Carhartt Inc.
-- Tomas Hult, professor, Byington Endowed Chair and director, International Business Center in the Eli Broad College of Business
-- Leo Kempel, dean, College of Engineering
-- Bonnie Knutson, professor, School of Hospitality Business
-- Wanda Lipscomb, associate professor, Department of Psychiatry
-- David L. Porteous, board of directors of Huntington Bancshares Inc. and past MSU trustee
-- Gregory J. Spray, doctoral candidate, Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, College of Communication Arts and Sciences
-- Felicia Wu, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition and Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics