Letter: The next steps at MSU must be the right steps
By William Deary
William Deary is a former MSU trustee candidate. Deary is also an MSU alumnus.
Our MSU family is in mourning. We are devastated by the many young lives that have been harmed by the unimaginable tragedy at Msu. Larry Nassar’s reprehensible behavior should have been stopped long before so many women and girls had been violated.
MSU needs to move forward with new leadership, pledging an exceptional level of commitment to accountability from every employee. We need to examine and embrace the painful lessons learned from this tragedy, only then can we lead our university through the fundamental changes needed at MSU.
We all have seen a multitude of news reports in the media and many individuals making numerous comments in the past few days. So many of the reports and comments leave me, simply stated, “baffled.”
Right now, there are only two key priorities for MSU:
SUPPORT THE SURVIVORS:
MSU must provide extraordinary support to each person working to survive, first, to ensure a most proper healing process for the women and young girls. As a father, I realize we also must provide support to every parent. Dads and moms were deviously tricked by Nassar and could be struggling, wondering what they could have done to prevent harm to their child.
MSU should select an expert, ideally suited to guide MSU through this crisis. Companies call this “crisis management.” Find the best person in the country and charge this expert to serve exclusively as the Crisis Manager to help the survivors, every survivor. We should anticipate that over time, more individuals will identify themselves and need the support each one is entitled to receive. We must provide every tool necessary to bring survivors the healing that is owed to them. This individual will lead the efforts to address the needs of both the survivors and their parents. All of them have been victimized in this terrible tragedy.
This person will also provide leadership, outlining and initiating the culture of transparency, necessary to regain, step-by-step, the confidence of the others impacted and hurt by all of this, the MSU family. The students, faculty, employees, administration and alumni have also become unfortunate additional collateral damage. MSU must set an example as the “Gold Standard of Best Practice” for preventing, reporting and prosecuting sexual assault on college campuses. The person leading MSU out of this crisis can settle for only the best system of compliance.
Any entity as big as MSU must be compliant by the code of conduct of its culture. MSU will never be perfect. The university cannot “police and audit policy and practice to seek perfection.” Rather, “the culture at MSU must pursue perfection in the practice of its process.”
MANAGE THE UNIVERSITY:
MSU has a responsibility to continue to work to realize its mission as a premier institution of higher learning, land-grant college, research facility, medical school and agricultural extension service, among its many other charges. The university has a very real responsibility to the current students and their families.
An interim President is being appointed. John Engler must focus on the day-to-day functions. As a former governor, he has the experience, knowledge and skill to manage an extremely complicated, multi-faceted business. MSU is a very large business with over 12,000 employees and a $2.2B budget. His tenure as governor exhibited what I believe is among the most important needs at MSU: accountability. He will bring to our university a decorum and management model which will serve well as a permanent President is being recruited. Engler cannot allow MSU to fall any further behind in the work that is expected and the work that must be accomplished.
He needs to fully understand and embrace the University’s commitment and responsibility to every stakeholder which includes the students, the employees, the vendor-partners and suppliers, the people who in any manner rely upon MSU. The students who are working to create their future and their parents, who take out school loans to provide a better future for their children. The employees of the university rely upon MSU to make their house payments and feed their children.
Accountability starts now.
At MSU we say, “Spartans will." Now it is clear that, “Spartans must." We have a duty to promise to each survivor, every survivor, your pain matters and we hear you and we will not let this ever happen again. Your suffering, more wrong and more bad and more devastating than we can understand, will be the catalyst of more good, more right and more trust for many generations to come.