MSU Board of Trustees Chair Dianne Byrum said the move to remove President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. following discussion of his contract is misguided, according to a statement she released Monday.
In an article from The Detroit News, a source not authorized to speak to the press said Stanley was asked to retire by vice chair Dan Kelly and Byrum. Byrum's statement today disputes this.
“In recent days, some members of the MSU Board of Trustees, for which I serve as chairperson, have created confusion over the future of our university’s president," Byrum said in the statement. "These actions do not represent how the board of an institution of higher education should act. MSU President Samuel Stanley has led our university through many challenges in recent years and attempts to remove him from his post before his contract is complete are misguided.”
“I am disappointed in the behavior of some members of the board which threatens to roll back the progress MSU has made and will continue to make,” Byrum said. “Unlike many colleges and universities, MSU has a record freshman class. We continue to climb in academic rankings. We’ve launched the FRIB. The financial measures taken by President Stanley have helped stabilize our finances which were shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic."
“We have new healthcare partnerships and continue to make progress in healthcare research,” Byrum continued in the statement. “We’ve taken great strides to address relationship violence and sexual misconduct and to improve the culture on campus. At MSU, we are on the move and making progress. That’s why I take strong exception to the conduct by several MSU Board of Trustees who have sought to undermine and second guess President Stanley under the mistaken belief they are somehow better qualified to run the university. They clearly are not as evidenced by the outpouring of concern, bewilderment and outrage their recent actions have generated. It is my belief these board members should apologize, reverse course and refocus on their proper role as Trustees of this amazing institution. President Stanley should be allowed to complete his service to MSU without undo interference by the Board."
Kelly also released a statement. He said the three of them had a meeting but did not threaten Stanley with termination.
“This past Friday, Board Chair Dianne Byrum, Vice-Chair Dan Kelly, and President Stanley had a brief meeting," Kelly said in the statement. "Contrary to recent media reports, at no time was the President threatened with termination or given an ultimatum regarding his employment. The Board has made no decision regarding any change in President Stanley’s employment status nor his employment contract”.
Trustee Melanie Foster released a statement Monday night saying she is against a premature end to Stanley’s contract. She noted several reasons why Stanley has performed well in his role as president, including his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“President Stanley has built an effective executive staff, and the university has achieved unprecedented accomplishments in enrollment, fund raising, health care partnerships, P3 partnerships, research funding, and strategic planning-presenting truly and exciting road map for the university’s future,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, there is discourse among the Trustees concerning the president’s performance. For reasons I have just cited, I believe President Stanley should be allowed to complete his service at MSU per the terms of his contract. Many faculty, university organizations and students have written advocating their support and calling for Board transparency in this process. The Board needs to listen to our constituents.”
Provost Teresa Woodruff sent a message to deans, directors and chairs at the university on Monday afternoon. She said as leaders, they should collaborate to "support the mission of MSU."
"In my time at MSU, Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct (RVSM), Title IX policies, and our organizational culture have improved with the leadership of President Stanley," Woodruff said in the statement. "We remain committed to building on these efforts to create a safer, more secure, more supportive, and inclusive campus. The safety and wellbeing of the campus community is a top priority of this administration and that has been re-enforced by our actions."
President of the Association of American Universities Barbara Snyder released a statement Monday night calling interference by the board in day-to-day operations, “inappropriate meddling.” Snyder said the Board of Trustees is in charge of governance, not management.
“Governing boards of universities and the professionals those boards hire to lead those institutions must work together to advance their core missions: educating students to be citizens, workers, innovators, scientists, artists, and public servants and enriching the cultural lives and the economies of the towns and states where they are located,” the statement said. “Micromanagement and partisan politics have no place on a healthy university board.”
This is a developing story. Stay with The State News for more information.
Editor's note: This article was updated at 4:52 p.m. on Sept. 12 to add a statement from Dan Kelly. This article was updated at 5:35 p.m. to add a statement from Teresa Woodruff. This article was updated at 6:43 p.m. to add a statement from the Association of American Universities President. This article was updated at 8:45 p.m. to add a statement from Melanie Foster.
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