Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Students, faculty demand transparency from the Board of Trustees

September 12, 2022
<p>Upward Bound Director and Program Coordinator Dr. Stephanie Anthony lines up the honorees for a processional to start the reception on April 30, 2018 at the MSU Union Ballroom. The Upward Bound program helps prepare seniors to become first generation college students. (Annie Barker | State News)</p>

Upward Bound Director and Program Coordinator Dr. Stephanie Anthony lines up the honorees for a processional to start the reception on April 30, 2018 at the MSU Union Ballroom. The Upward Bound program helps prepare seniors to become first generation college students. (Annie Barker | State News)

In the wake of an announcement that President Samuel L. Stanley Jr.’s contract is under discussion with the Board of Trustees, several students and faculty members are demanding transparency from the board.

On Sunday night, MSU Faculty Senate and Steering Committee president Karen Kelly-Blake and Vice President Stephanie Anthony released a statement expressing their concern for the contractual discussion occurring “behind closed doors.”

“As the chairperson and vice chairperson of the Faculty Senate and the Steering Committee, we commit to pursuing the truth through all available channels, and we insist that the Board of Trustees communicate with faculty leadership in a deliberative and substantive way before any decisions are made,” the statement said. 

A statement from the current president of the Council of Graduate Students Hannah Jeffrey and former presidents Sara Hugentobler and Meagan Abel was released Monday afternoon calling for community participation in the deliberations.

“During each of our terms, we as Presidents have emphasized to the Board the importance of communication, transparency, and collaborative decision making in repairing trust,” the statement said. “In the spirit of those values, MSU’s graduate students, and the community at large, deserve a full accounting of the Board’s concerns and the opportunity to participate in the deliberative process.”

The MSU Black Faculty, Staff, and Administration Association released a statement Tuesday afternoon citing several Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives started under Stanley including diverse academic appointments and plans to build a free-standing multicultural center. The statement said the alleged change in the board’s trust in Stanley is “troubling.”

“The Board of Trustees apparently recognized this general and overall leadership by rewarding President Stanley with a retroactive increase in salary in October 2021,” the statement said. “The apparent lack of transparency about the alleged change in the Board’s relationship with President Stanley, and any related potential leadership change implications, are of substantial concern. Given that the potential impact of the aforementioned positive changes in DEI and other policies and procedures on the success of people of color and women in general at MSU is likely substantial, any leadership change is problematic.”

The Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, also released a statement Monday afternoon saying “the students of Michigan State University are appalled with the continued lack of transparency from the Board of Trustees.” 

In the release, ASMSU said “the culture of decisions being made behind closed doors without the voices of all affected parties” is a “detriment to the community members’ trust in this institution.”

“We demand that the Board of Trustees include students in all decision making, especially ones that affect us so greatly,” the statement said. “We also demand that the Board of Trustees hold transparency as one of the most important and inherent aspects of their duties as elected officials and leaders at this university. Most importantly, we demand that any and all parties found to be involved in mishandling acts of sexual misconduct at our university are no longer employed nor supported at Michigan State University.”

The executive board of MSU's Coalition of Racial and Ethnic Minorities released a statement Monday evening saying it is "troubled by the actions of the Board of Trustees that calls for the review of MSU President Stanley’s contract."

"While MSU is not perfect, under the leadership of President Stanley and his administration, MSU has made progress toward a more inclusive campus community," the statement said. "A culture of secrecy and closed doors, where the voices of those who are impacted by such decisions are excluded, cannot be tolerated any longer at MSU. As we welcome a record number of students to campus, it takes vigilance and a continued commitment to keep MSU a welcoming and safe campus."

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