Board of Trustees meeting to address tuition, personnel actions, student concerns on Friday
The MSU Board of Trustees will hold its next meeting at the Hannah Administration Building on June 22 amid continuing calls for Interim President John Engler's resignation.
The meeting, the first of the summer semester, is to have a "heightened awareness of student, staff and faculty concerns," according to Trustee Brian Mosallam.
Items currently on the board's agenda include the approval of the university's 2018-2019 budget, discussion of tuition rates and personnel contract approval.
Tuition and 2018-2019 budget approval
The Trustee Finance Committee will present guidelines for developing the 2018-2019 budget on Friday, according to the meeting's agenda.
One of the questions to be raised at the meeting is how much MSU's tuition rates will be increased in the upcoming academic year.
In light of the $500 million settlement between MSU and the survivors of ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse who sued the university, many members of the MSU community have expressed concerns with how the settlement will be paid for and whether or not the funds will come out of students' tuition.
Engler had previously told lawmakers in March that money needed for settling the lawsuits filed against the university by survivors might increase MSU students' tuition.
However, following a meeting in April with the Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, Engler told The State News tuition might not be affected by the litigation.
Also on the meeting's agenda are several personnel actions and information reports.
Men's basketball head coach Tom Izzo, men's hockey head coach Danton Cole and women's basketball head coach Suzy Merchant are all renewing their contracts with the university, according to the agenda.
Robert Young's contract as vice president of legal affairs and general counsel will also be discussed at the meeting. According to the agenda, Young's contract is effective from June 1, 2018 to May 31, 2021.
Mosallam said he thinks the board's vote of Young's contract as vice president and general counsel is a mistake.
"It's one thing to hire a general counsel; it's another thing to give a general counsel a three year contract," he said. "I think it's a bad idea to give any general counsel a term contract because it creates conflicts that could lead to bad judgments by both the general counsel in his/her advice to the university, and the university's willingness to terminate the general counsel if it receives bad advice because we would then owe the general counsel money after that termination under a term contract."
Out of everything on the board's agenda, Mosallam said he thinks the creation of a Chief Risk, Compliance and Ethics Officer is a "big deal."
"We now will have someone asking the question not what MSU can do from a legal perspective but what MSU should do from an ethical one," he said. "I think that will bring a huge change to our culture."
Student, faculty and survivor concerns
According to the agenda, there will be time for public participation at the beginning of the meeting.
Mosallam said anyone who wants to address the board during that time should be allowed to speak, as MSU is a public university.
He said "substantive reforms" emphasizing culture, compliance and ethics will be discussed.
"If my colleagues on the board decide that they do not have the fortitude to terminate Engler's contract then I truly hope he hears the public outrage and becomes a better man who speaks to people on the level and with integrity," Mosallam said via email. "Bluster may work in Lansing, but this is East Lansing, and in this town, we treat each other with respect and dignity. Especially survivors of sexual abuse."
Mosallam said that he stands with Reclaim MSU, Morgan McCaul and other members of the MSU community who plan on rallying during the board meeting for a 'Solidarity for Survivors' event.
"I hope my colleagues listen to Morgan McCaul if she chooses to speak. Morgan is a passionate person who has a lot of great ideas," he said. "And I think the least the board could do is listen to her ideas and learn from her experiences so we can best determine policy for this university going forward."
The Solidarity for Survivors rally urges individuals to stand with survivors of sexual violence. According to the rally's description, they plan to bring their demands for reform to the Board of Trustees.
According to the event's press release, the list of demands includes:
- The termination of John Engler as interim president of MSU by the Board of Trustees.
- The denouncement of the appointment of Robert Young Jr. to the office of the Vice President and General Counsel of MSU.
- The termination of Carol Viventi as vice president and special counsel to the president.
- The termination of all others appointed by the current administration.
- The immediate termination of any MSU employee who knew or should have known about the abuse of students, faculty, or patients on campus and did not take action.
- The reopening of Amanda Thomashow's 2014 Title IX investigation by the MSU Office of Institutional Equity.
- The MSU Board of Trustees adopt and enforce Reclaim MSU's bylaw changes and policy proposals.
"I stand with them in solidarity with the survivors, and if didn't have to be in that board room on Friday, I would be joining them in the streets in protest of how my colleagues have refused to listen to their demands," Mosallam said.
In May, Mosallam released an eight-page proposal that called for the establishment of policies at the university that would implement accountability, board oversight, trustee reform, independent oversight and more.
Mosallam said he believes the university will see the adoption of several of his reforms, including the creation of an escalation policy of sexual misconduct reporting and the creation of an independent sexual misconduct ombudsman.
Calls for Engler's resignation leading up to the meeting
Mosallam and Trustee Dianne Byrum called for Engler's resignation last week in light of a June 13 report published by the Chronicle of Higher Education. That report disclosed April email correspondence between Engler and Carol Viventi, his aide.
Engler claimed in the emails that Rachael Denhollander, a survivor of Nassar's sexual abuse, was likely to get a "kickback" from her lawyers for her role in "manipulation" of other survivors.
Engler issued a response to multiple calls for him to step down, saying he had no plans to leave.
"I continue to look ahead," Engler said in a statement. "Whatever the tensions were before, we have successfully negotiated a settlement agreement — something that is fair and equitable to both sides, and that both sides agreed to."
"I am looking forward to the Board of Trustee meeting next week where we will continue our progress and efforts to move forward. I believe actions matter, and that is how the success of our work will be determined."
In a letter released Tuesday, 120 survivors of Nassar's sexual abuse also called for Engler to leave his position at the university and that select trustees should force him to resign. That number later grew to 133 as more survivors added their signatures to the letter.
Find the June 22 Board of Trustees meeting agenda below.