Friday, September 30, 2022

Stanley: Trustees to blame for failure in Title IX certification

Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. signed the university's 2021 Title IX Certification document under the impression all of the reports were reviewed by a board member as required by the state.

Board members have called for Stanley's resignation due to concerns over the certification process, accusing him of falsely certifying the Title IX document without a review from all of the board members.

The process, actually, requires only one board member to review the reports on top of Stanley. With his signature, Stanley checked "Yes" to a section of the Title IX Transparency Reporting Form saying "The university certifies that its president or a chancellor and a member of its governing board has reviewed all title IX reports involving alleged misconduct of an employee of the university."

Stanley not only defended his actions but said it was the board that fell short of its responsibilities.

He said on Tuesday that in June of this year, he learned some board members did not review their section.

"I faithfully complied with this Michigan certification process last two years, and reviewed all the Title IX reports," Stanley said at Tuesday's faculty senate meeting. "Contrary to the information previously provided to me, in June of this year, June 2022, I was notified that some of our board members may not have actually complied with their part of the state requirement in 2021."

Although the requirement is for only one board member to read the cases, at MSU, reports are assigned and divided amongst the board members of the Audit Risk and Compliance Committee, university spokesperson Emily Guerrant said. However, she was not sure which of the four members participated in the reviews and said that other board members may have helped out by reading reports.

Members of the board did not respond to inquiries if they personally read the documents they were assigned.

The certification is meant to confirm to the state that the university president and at least one member of the university's governing board have reviewed all Title IX misconduct cases by a university employee in the respective fiscal year.

The Michigan Legislature approved this language in the state boilerplate budget, and universities began certifications beginning in the 2020 fiscal year. Stanley signed the 2021 fiscal year certification on Sept. 30, 2021. MSU is currently working on the report for 2022, which is due Sept. 30, 2022.

Stanley said MSU has asked for an internal audit and review of the situation, which raised questions about MSU's compliance.

"An external counsel, external consultants now helping us improve the processes and keep us in compliance. We have been taking this issue very seriously," Stanley said on Tuesday.

Had Stanley not confirmed he and at least one person from the governing board reviewed the documents, the university would be subject to a withholding of 10% of their state funding, the certification document says.

Board chair Dianne Byrum and outgoing trustee Melanie Foster have publicly shown support for Stanley and are against his resignation. According to an email from Stanley sent to the MSU community, his contract and future at MSU remain in discussion with the board of trustees.

Calls for his resignation in the media began on Sept. 11, with a Detroit Free Press article that claimed the trustees were at the “tipping point” with Stanley following the resignation of former Broad College of Business dean Sanjay Gupta.

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