Some MSU faculty members have begun to call for President Lou Anna K. Simon’s resignation, but the process for a formal vote of no confidence won’t be an easy one.
At Tuesday’s University Council meeting, James Madison College professors Andaluna Borcila and Anna Pegler-Gordon called for an emergency meeting of the Steering Committee and a vote of no confidence in Simon’s leadership from the MSU faculty.
“Faculty are a really important part of the university, along with students and administrators. I think it’s important for faculty to make a statement on this because it’s a very important issue for the university,” Pegler-Gordon said in an interview with The State News.
Simon herself was not in attendance at the meeting. Provost June Pierce Youatt read the president’s statement and said Simon was in her office watching a livestream of victim impact statements from ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s sentencing in Ingham County Circuit Court.
Simon’s statement to the Council said she will “keep listening” until all the victim impact statements have been made in court, and then she will have more to say.
“We are deeply saddened, and we’re angered,” Borcila and Pegler-Gordon said, addressing the Council. They said they stand with the Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, and the student body, and it’s time for faculty to voice its opinion.
Other faculty members in the room supported the motion by clapping and reading statements of their own.
“Please treat this as an emergency,” College of Engineering professor Robert Ofoli said. “This is very difficult to watch.”
ASMSU President Lorenzo Santavicca reiterated his organization’s earlier resolution stating their lack of confidence in the university’s current administration. He said students are distracted by all the news about Nassar and administration needs to act.
“We have an obligation to say something as faculty,” Borcila said. “I have to say, I’m really proud of our students.”
Youatt voiced concerns about the lack of precedent for calling an emergency faculty meeting and the ability to do so given the organization’s bylaws.
Members of the Steering Committee met after the University Council meeting was over to discuss the matter further.
Some members expressed concern that the full faculty needed to be involved in something as important as a vote of no confidence. Santavicca said he believes making such decisions is the role of a representative body.
The committee drafted a copy of a letter to be sent to all faculty requesting a vote to refer an agenda item on confidence in President Simon. The letter would be sent by email to all faculty members, who would be required to vote by Saturday. The letter was to be sent out by the Provost’s office on Wednesday morning, but had not been sent as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.
MSU spokesperson Jason Cody said that the delay was caused by technological difficulties sending the email to the entire faculty and ensuring that faculty members would only be able to vote once. He was unable to tell The State News if the voting deadline remains the same despite the delay.