Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Trustee Knake sees no new findings in Nassar documents, Ferguson, Mosallam's last meeting

December 18, 2020
<p>A screenshot from the Dec. 18, 2020, MSU Board of Trustees meeting.</p>

A screenshot from the Dec. 18, 2020, MSU Board of Trustees meeting.

Michigan State University Board of Trustees member Renee Knake addressed her review of the withheld documents regarding ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar's abuse at the last board meeting of 2020, concluding that there are no new findings.

"I am treating them as privileged," Knake said. "... I can report, however, that what I learned from these documents is consistent with information that is already in the public domain."

It was originally reported that there were 6,000 documents held onto by the university, while Knake discovered there to be 9,769, nearly 4,000 more.

As there were contained numerous pages to the documents, she ended up reading over 10,000 pages worth of memos and reports involving Nassar and ex-Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine William Strampel.

Knake noted why it has taken her so long so go through them, as began her review of the documents in early 2020

"I began my review in early 2020 and I was able to make good progress in what was my semester break from teaching, but being a trustee is a volunteer role and one that I didn't have much time to adjust my schedule for, as my appointment followed on the heels of another trustee's resignation," Knake said. "And when COVID struck, finding time became much more difficult."

She was able to conclude that what was within the withheld documents was consistent with what has been released publicly.

She stated that within the documents, the best resources to understanding who knew what and when are the following:

  • March 29, 2018 letter from Miller Canfield to the Michigan House of Representatives
  • September 1, 2020, memorandum to the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights regarding Larry Nassar employee action review
  • September 1, 2020 memorandum to the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights regarding William Strampel's employee action review

Knake was appointed to the board by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Dec. 2019, following the resignation of Nancy Schlichting, who resigned following disagreements about whether or not to release the documents. Following conversations with survivors and members of the MSU community, she asked to review the documents herself.

"I appreciate (Knake) for reviewing the documents," Chair of the board Dianne Byrum said. "And I do know it took just hours and hours of time because I've had several conversations with her over the course of summer and the fall ... I am certain that the board will continue to have conversation and discussion about privileged documents."

Knake recommends that the board release the documents for an independent review and after the review, issue a public report.

Ferguson, Mosallam end terms on MSU Board

Trustees Joel Ferguson and Brian Mosallam attended their last meeting as members of the MSU Board of Trustees. Their spots will be filled by Pat O'Keefe and Rema Vassar, who will begin their terms Jan. 1, 2021.

"To the survivors, I will continue to stay in touch, many of you that I am in touch with, I've made lifelong friends," Mosallam said. "We are guardians, and temporary placeholders of an institution that will live in perpetuity, his title will not define me, it has never defined me. I am not going anywhere."

Mosallam was the first trustee on the board during the breakout of the Nassar scandal to seek reelection, as Ferguson announced he would not be seeking reelection for a fourth term.

Ferguson is the longest serving board member in MSU's history. He was elected to the board in 1986 and has been reelected three times. He has served as chairperson of the board six times and vice-chair five times.

Trustee Melanie Foster named Ferguson chair emeritus for the MSU Board of Trustees.

Mosallam said there was a big announcement coming soon and also congratulated the trustees-elects.

"I've gotten to know (Vassar) very, very well, running with her," he said. "... She's very, very intelligent and somebody that I think you the board will look forward to working with."

"(O'Keefe is) ready to come in and make his mark here," Mosallam said. "So, you know, for what it's worth, I will always be a Spartan."

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