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Interim president John Engler officially resigns, effective Jan. 23

January 16, 2019
Newly appointed interim president John Engler addresses the media on Jan. 31, 2018, at Hannah Administration Building. (C.J. Weiss | The State News)
Newly appointed interim president John Engler addresses the media on Jan. 31, 2018, at Hannah Administration Building. (C.J. Weiss | The State News) —

Interim Michigan State President John Engler officially submitted a letter of resignation Wednesday evening, after numerous calls for him to do so from inside and outside the university. According to a source close to the Engler administration, Engler's replacement will most likely be an in-house dean.  

In the 11-page letter, Engler defends his tenure, outlining the improvements the university has made while he was interim president. 

"The bottom line is that MSU is a dramatically better, stronger institution than it was one year ago," he said in the letter. "I am proud to have a key role in preparing my school to welcome a new President who will have the opportunity to take us to new heights. 

"I will be forever grateful to all of those who have supported me this past year."

Engler's resignation is effective 9 a.m. on Jan. 23.

"It has been an honor to serve my beloved university," Engler's letter reads.

The board will meet Thursday morning at 8 a.m. to discuss the presidential transition, MSU Spokesperson Emily Guerrant said in a statement. 

It was announced Wednesday that the MSU Board of Trustees would be holding an emergency meeting Thursday morning to discuss Engler's future at the university. Byrum asked Engler to resign before the meeting was scheduled to be held, a source close to the administration told the Detroit Free Press.

Rachael Denhollander, the woman who first came forward publicly about Nassar’s abuse, said she’s thankful the board has taken a step forward with Engler, but it's only a first step. She said she hopes the board will continue to signal a new direction.

“There is a great deal that those old board members in particular are going to have to do to truly signal a change and even begin to regain credibility and public trust,” Denhollander said.

Engler's resignation letter states Byrum informed him five members of the board requested his resignation prior to Thursday.

Previously, Trustee Brian Mosallam made a motion to terminate Engler from his position "for failing to uphold the standards of conduct expected from a leader of this university” at a June board meeting. This came after Engler claimed Denhollander would be getting a "kickback" from her attorneys for aiding in the "manipulation" of other survivors against the university. 

The motion didn't pass, but Trustees Mosallam and Byrum voted in support of it.

According to Engler's contract, his salary as interim president was $510,399, but chose to donate the salary back to university organizations of his choice. Engler also waived healthcare and retirement benefits.

Engler's resignation comes after comments he recently made about survivors in an interview with The Detroit News Editorial Board, where he said they were “enjoying the spotlight." This prompted national coverage and criticism, including from Chair of the Board of Trustees Dianne Byrum, who told The Detroit News his comments are "ill advised."

"You’ve got people, they are hanging on and this has been … there are a lot of people who are touched by this, survivors who haven’t been in the spotlight,” Engler told the News. “In some ways, they have been able to deal with this better than the ones who’ve been in the spotlight who are still enjoying that moment at times, you know, the awards and recognition.”

A petition to fire Engler — created by Reclaim MSU — also reached over 1,800 signatures from the community as of Wednesday. 

“Upon his appointment, Engler has brought more shame to a community trying to heal and move forward by sticking to a combative legal approach, fighting sexual assault survivors, and creating a culture of cronyism,” the petition said. “He has proven time and again that he is unfit to lead and unwilling to be held accountable for his actions.”

Read Engler's full resignation letter below.

Engler's Resignation by on Scribd



Editor's note: This story was updated at 7:56 p.m. to include Engler's resignation letter and a statement from MSU Spokesperson Emily Guerrant. 

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