Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Community reactions to ex-President Simon's $2.45 million retirement payout

August 5, 2019
<p>Protesters gather at the Reclaim MSU Rally at the Hannah Administration Building on March 23, 2018. (Annie Barker | State News)</p>

Protesters gather at the Reclaim MSU Rally at the Hannah Administration Building on March 23, 2018. (Annie Barker | State News)

On August 31, 2019 — shortly after students arrive to East Lansing for the fall semester — ex-Michigan State President Lou Anna K. Simon will have officially retired from an MSU tenured faculty position with a $2.45 million payout, including other former executive benefits.

Simon is waiting for a ruling for the conclusion of preliminary hearings that determine if there is a trial for criminal charges about her alleged lying to police in a 2014 Title IX investigation into ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse.

Simon's payout has come under scrutiny by community members, as the MSU Sexual Assault Program is requesting purchases from their Amazon wish list for funding counseling, advocacy and support groups on campus.

The program's website also includes a list of resources, from local to national levels.

Some discussions on Twitter were in disagreement on whether Simon deserved her payout given a lack of funding for the Sexual Assault Program.

"Regardless of the terms of Simon’s contract, the Board of Trustees has a choice to make: They can continue to honor her as a Hannah Distinguished Professor, one of the highest honors available to MSU faculty, or they can revoke that honor in recognition of her profound failure," student and faculty group Reclaim MSU said in a statement. "The failures of Simon’s administration have caused the survivors of Nassar’s abuse unquantifiable suffering and cost the university hundreds of millions of dollars. She should have had the dignity to bow out without taking any more of MSU’s money.

"The Board should have insisted that she forfeit this $2.45 million payout and taken action to remove her for cause if she refused. This is an easy way out, and a misuse of public funds.”

Legal fees for the university have totaled more than $523 million, according the Lansing State Journal in January. This includes the $500 million settlement after Nassar's sentencing in 2018 and the defense of ex-Dean William Strampel and ex-gymnastics coach Kathie Klages.

Strampel was found guilty of misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty in June. Klages and Simon are both charged with lying to a police officer during an investigation into MSU's handling of Nassar's abuse.

More than 300 survivors of Nassar's abuse are involved in the $500 million settlement. A separate lawsuit includes 150 additional survivors, and lawyers allege that MSU is treating the second group — known as the second wave of survivors — much differently.

Some of the second-wave survivors voiced concerns at the MSU Board of Trustees meeting in June. The first Board of Trustees meeting under President Samuel L. Stanley Jr.'s administration will occur September 6.

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