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Permanent university president to be announced June 2019

June 27, 2018

The announcement of a permanent MSU president will come in June 2019, according to a timeline detailing the selection of the next president that was presented Wednesday by Trustees Dianne Byrum and Melanie Foster.

Byrum and Foster, who are leading the search for a new university president for the MSU Board of Trustees, announced at a press conference in the Plant and Soil Sciences Building on campus a timeline for the search of a permanent university president. 

According to the press release that was handed out at the conference, this is the presidential search timeline:

  • July-October 2018: Listening sessions will be held with stakeholders and members of the MSU community. 
  • July 2018: Issue request for proposals from the presidential search firms.
  • August 2018: A search committee will be formed.
  • September 2018: Search firm interviews will be conducted and a decision on the firm will be made.
  • October 2018: The position profile for president will be profiled and made public.
  • November 2018-January 2019: Candidates will be identified and initial interviews will be conducted.
  • February-May 2019: Finalist interviews with the Board of Trustees will be hosted.
  • June 2019: The selection of a university president will be made. 

Members of the media attending the press conference were allowed to ask Byrum and Foster questions after they went over the timeline.

A few MSU students, faculty and staff were present during the conference and some were able to ask questions, as well. Anna Pegler-Gordon and Andaluna Borcila, both professors at MSU, voiced their concerns to Byrum and Foster.

Both Gordon and Borcila expressed concerns with students, staff and faculty being involved in the selection of a new university president.

"In August, things are starting to happen, but August is when students and faculty return," Borcila said.

Senior education major Mackenzie Mrla was able to ask a question during the conference, but had her last question ignored by Byrum and Foster just before the event concluded.

After the conference concluded, Mrla said she was even more concerned about the Board of Trustees not listening to students and faculty, as her last question was not taken. 

"They're saying they want a change, so I came here thinking they're going to come and listen to me and listen to my questions, and then I raised my hand and she [Byrum] clearly just looks at me," Mrla said. 

Mrla, who was involved in placing teal ribbons and organizing marches on campus during the past school year, said she plans on continuing to fight for a change at MSU. 

"I'm in love with this school," she said. "I have a tattoo of Sparty on my foot. I would not be sitting here fighting for this school if I didn't care, so it's really concerning that they clearly don't care."

Katie Paulot, a sophomore in the James Madison College, said her confidence in the Board of Trustees has been decreasing. She said she believes there is a disconnect among members on the board. 

"With the culture that we have at MSU, they keep saying they want it to change, they want to make an inclusive community," she said. "They can say whatever they want, but all of their actions tell us exactly what they're doing."

Byrum said listening sessions, which will begin after July 4, will allow MSU faculty and staff to be involved. 

"Immediately, we're going to be doing on-campus listening sessions over the summer," Byrum said. "I realize the students aren't back until the end of August, but we should not wait for a magic time just to have everybody back here because there's a lot of people who are here over the summer."

Byrum said that anyone in the MSU community can attend some of these listening sessions and that anyone can post comments on the presidential search website. The website will include information about the search committee membership and the ability for people to submit nominations. 

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"We're trying to be as inclusive and open to people's ability to communicate," she said.

She also said that she and Foster have been in contact with student leadership organizations on campus, such as the Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU. 

"We will be in contact with the student leadership organizations; ASMSU and the other organizations," she said. "And we have been right along, so we regularly have conversations with the student leadership."

Byrum said that, ultimately, the Board of Commissioners will select the university's president. 

Thoughts about Engler in light of search for new president

Byrum and Foster said that Interim President John Engler won't be involved in the presidential search.

In regards to concerns about Engler's leadership, Byrum said she still maintains her position in calling for his termination.

"I haven't changed my position," Byrum said. "I've made my comments, my position, very clear but I also realize that we have to be thinking about the future of this university and that's every student, every faculty member and the academic excellence of this institution and we need a permanent, new president. That has to be a top priority and I have chose to spend my energies and attention working with Trustee Foster to be very involved in selecting that new president."

Mrla said she still believes Engler should leave his position and that the university administration is not prepared for the largest, most diverse incoming class (8,400 freshmen, according to Foster), as an unsafe culture of sexual assault is still present on MSU's campus. 

"I think that we still need to increase the pressure on Engler to not be here anymore," Mrla said. "I don't think it's healthy for him to be here and I don't think that that's going to change. So going into the school year, I'm a little nervous to have Engler here still." 

Paulot, who spoke at the Board of Trustees meeting on June 22, said she is also concerned about Engler still being interim president while the search for a permanent president is going on.

"Just knowing that the timeline that they gave us, they plan on keeping Engler for a while," Paulot said. "They, apparently, after the Board of Trustees meeting, still have confidence in him because he issued one apology."


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