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In 61-4 decision, Faculty Senate has no confidence in Board of Trustees

February 14, 2018

The faculty has no confidence in the leadership of the MSU Board of Trustees.

In a 61-4 decision, MSU’s Faculty Senate passed a vote of no confidence in the MSU Board of Trustees Tuesday during its meeting, effectively taking the stance on behalf of the entire MSU faculty that the trustees should be replaced.

Of the 70 voting faculty, five abstained. The vote is largely symbolic, as Faculty Senate holds no power over the board.

The vote does not call for MSU Interim President John Engler to resign, at-large member of the Steering Committee Robert LaDuca said.

“They should’ve been compelled to care years ago, months ago, and it just said a lot that when all the political winds were blowing, all of the survivor stories came out, and they resolutely stood behind former President  (Lou Anna K.) Simon,” LaDuca said. “That tells us everything we need to know.”

Although the trustees are eight independent people and the vote does not specifically call for them to resign, LaDuca said the board needs to be replaced for the university to move forward.

“I do know that two of them have declared they’re not running for reelection — that’s a start, but we really need to have eight board members leave en masse out of love for the university and put eight academic leaders in place to move us going forward,” LaDuca said.

Several faculty members and students spoke prior to the vote. 

Engineering professor Robert Ofoli advocated for continued action in changing the culture of the university, pushing faculty to reclaim their roles.

“We were given tenure for exactly that purpose: to speak out,” Ofoli said. “We need to get out of our comfort zone, we need to become human again, we need to give a damn.”

The vote was held in response to the board’s appointment of Engler as interim president, which faculty and student liaisons objected to.

In a statement released prior to the appointment, Faculty Senate said the board ignored student and faculty recommendations to choose a candidate with "significant experience devising and implementing programs to mitigate sexual harassment and sexual abuse," ideally a woman with extensive experience in academic leadership.

"(The trustees) seem to have selected, without appropriate consultation from the MSU Community, an individual with no academic leadership experience as Interim President," the statement read. "We have issues with both the selection itself, and a selection process that used meetings with students, faculty, and Deans to give the appearance of consultation."

Some faculty took issue with the focus on Engler’s appointment. Supply chain management professor Shawnee Vickery made a motion to amend the agenda to change the stated reason for the vote of no confidence to the board’s failure to prevent the abuse of ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar. Vickery said voting no confidence only after faculty’s suggestions were ignored sends the wrong message.

“I am not sure if the at-large members of the Steering Committee realize how insensitive and tone-deaf this motion makes us appear,” Vickery said.

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