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Ex-University of Virginia president named interim MSU provost

The Detroit News

A former president of the University of Virginia has been named interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Michigan State University.

Teresa A. Sullivan, an MSU alumna who retired from the Virginia university in July 2018, replaces June Youatt, who resigned this month.

Teresa A. Sullivan

Sullivan was provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan from 2006 to 2010, when she went to UVA. As provost, she oversaw UM's 19 schools and colleges.

“Terry has a wealth of experience as a provost and previous university president and will help us tremendously as we weather through our changes at Michigan State as well as our search for a new provost,” MSU President Samuel Stanley said in a statement.

Stanley said the university will name a search committee and hire a search firm to hire a new provost. Sullivan will begin work Oct. 1 and serve for the rest of the academic year.

“I love MSU, and I’m committed to helping where I can,” Sullivan said in a statement. “I intend to work with the faculty, staff and students to further the university’s academic and research mission."

Youatt stepped down Sept. 5 in the wake of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education over the university's handling of sexual abuse cases on campus and a record $4.5 million fine related to the Larry Nassar scandal.

Youatt herself said in April that she first learned of a 2014 complaint against Nassar during a meeting with William Strampel, the former dean of MSU's College of Osteopathic Medicine. Youatt didn’t follow up on Nassar, she said, because she assumed negative findings “would be reported to me.”

Strampel is serving jail time for harassing female students and failing to properly oversee Nassar — behavior Youatt was criticized for not properly handling.

At the time Youatt resigned as provost, Stanley declined to address whether he had asked her to leave.

"We had a conversation based on the report," Stanley said. "I read the report, brought her in and she tendered her resignation."

Youatt, whose salary is $480,000 a year, remains an MSU faculty member. Her contract allows her to take a six-month research leave and six-month sabbatical leave, both at full pay.

In a statement, the MSU Women's Council, a student group that advocates for feminist causes, called for Youatt to resign from the faculty.

"Youatt was named in the Office of Civil Rights report as liable for failing to act on knowledge of ... Strampel’s perpetration of sexual harassment," the statement said. "... Women’s Council is appalled that Michigan State University is rewarding her disregard for student safety and faculty accountability. Her resignation should be demanded by President Stanley and the Board of Trustees."

The group also called for trustees Dianne Byrum, Melanie Scott, Melanie Foster and Joel Ferguson to resign since they opposed waiving attorney-client privilege to release 6,300 pages of documents for the state Attorney General’s investigation into the Nassar scandal.