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Michigan State Trustee Pat O'Keefe resigns in letter to governor's office

November 30, 2022
Trustee Pat O'Keefe puts on a "No More Nassar" hat during the Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 28, 2022.
Trustee Pat O'Keefe puts on a "No More Nassar" hat during the Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 28, 2022. —
Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

Pat O’Keefe resigned from the MSU Board of Trustees in a letter to the governor on Nov. 30.

"Michigan State University is a premier institution in the state," Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's communications director Bobby Leddy said in a statement. "It is deeply important to Governor Whitmer, both as a Spartan and as governor, that students, staff, faculty, alumni, and the public have confidence in the board. That begins with having great partners and great leadership in these positions. We will begin our search to appoint someone who will stand up for those values and move the university forward."

In his resignation letter to Whitmer, O’Keefe stated that he had “serious concerns” regarding the resignation of former Business School Dean Sanjay Gupta and that he feared the board would not disclose the results of the investigations into the matter.

He also wrote he hopes university influencers and stakeholders demand answers.

"My belief is that shadows of the University's past will continue to linger if true change remains aspirational and the Board does not practice the transparency it seeks to promote,” he said. O'Keefe hopes the statement emphasizes the need for meaningful change at MSU.

“I sought election to the Board of Trustees because of my deep affection for the University, which is my alma mater,” O’Keefe said. “I wanted to bring my 30-plus years as a business and turnaround consultant to assist the University in moving past the dark days of Nassar. Knowing the institution's history, I can no longer serve on a Board that purports to promote cultural change yet struggles itself to be transparent.”

The resignation came one month after he made controversial comments at the Oct. 28 Board of Trustees meeting.

In his comments, O’Keefe stated that he was “tired of reading about the sexual transgressions of the faculty, which are like reading ‘50 Shades of Grey’ and are as long as ‘Gone with the Wind,’ without knowing what the outcomes are of such behavior.” 

In response to O’Keefe’s statements, members of the MSU Academic Governance sent a letter to the MSU community which called the comments "a threat and danger to the operations of this university."

The letter went on to say that the trustee's comments "eroticized sexual victimization, which imparts a chilling effect on those reporting these events and trivializes the trauma of those who have been affected by them."

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