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MSU board will hold meeting to discuss report's finding that chair Vassar, trustee Denno breached bylaws

March 2, 2024
The Board of Trustees during a meeting in the Hannah Administration Building on Oct. 27, 2023.
The Board of Trustees during a meeting in the Hannah Administration Building on Oct. 27, 2023. —
Photo by Sonya Barlow | The State News

The Michigan State University Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting tomorrow to discuss a recently released report of an investigation into widespread allegations of misconduct by board chair Rema Vassar

The meeting will be held at 10 p.m. via Zoom.

The meeting comes days after the release of an investigation by external firm Miller & Chevalier into widespread allegations of misconduct initially made by trustee Brianna Scott against Vassar. 

Scott sent a letter to the board in Oct. 2023 detailing Vassar’s alleged misconduct and calling for her to resign. Vassar responded days later calling the allegations “fabrications and misstatements.”

The letter sparked criticism from prominent figures across MSU and Michigan politics. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called the allegations “deeply concerning.”

The investigation, which broadened its scope as additional allegations came to light throughout, ultimately found that Vassar and trustee Dennis Denno breached board bylaws and the code of ethics. 

Specifically, the 63-page report found that Vassar and Denno interfered in university investigations and lawsuits, encouraged personal attacks against Faculty Senate chair Jack Lipton and “encouraged student actions intended to embarrass and unsettle Interim President Woodruff,” among other things

Their actions have “created fissures that have weakened the governance structure of the University and encouraged and created openings for members of the MSU community to also circumvent the Administration and reporting protocols, by leveraging individual Board members to act on their behalf,” according to the report

The review recommends referral to Whitmer for corrective action under a law in the state constitution that gives the governor the right to remove members of boards of state universities from office. It also recommends that Scott be censured for publicly releasing the letter of allegations against Vassar, which triggered the investigation.  

The agenda for tomorrow’s meeting, which was announced tonight in order to satisfy the 24-hour advance guideline set by the Open Meetings Act, includes no motions. Aside from the call to order, agenda approval and adjournment, the only item on the agenda is labeled “Miller & Chevalier Report.”

Board bylaws prevent trustees from voting on any motion or resolution not included on the agenda prior to the meeting unless it is endorsed in writing by three or more trustees.

MSU spokesperson Emily Guerrant said the board could vote to amend the agenda and vote on certain resolutions.

"It's not just a planned discussion," she said. "The board is planning to take actions but I can't really comment on what they are."

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