Sunday, April 14, 2024

MSU President Guskiewicz says investigation's findings into board misconduct are 'concerning,' but he is assured moving forward

March 4, 2024
<p>Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz spoke in an interview in his South Building office on Monday, April 24, 2023. Photo taken by Kennedy Cox and provided by The Daily Tar Heel.</p>

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz spoke in an interview in his South Building office on Monday, April 24, 2023. Photo taken by Kennedy Cox and provided by The Daily Tar Heel.

Kevin Guskiewicz, who is set to begin his tenure as Michigan State University’s 22nd president today, outlined his goals for MSU and addressed the findings of the Miller & Chevalier report regarding the Board of Trustees in a campus-wide email sent out Monday morning. 

Over spring break, an external investigation found that then board chair Rema Vassar and trustee Dennis Denno violated board policies by encouraging students to embarrass Interim President Teresa Woodruff and intervening in investigations, among other violations

The report recommended Vassar and Denno be referred to Gov. Gretchen 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.

Hours before a special board meeting Sunday night, Vassar resigned as board chair. Both Vassar and Denno were stripped of their duties on the board and referred to the governor, and trustee Brianna Scott was censured. 

Regarding the findings of the investigation, Guskiewicz referred to Vassar and Denno’s actions as "concerning," but maintained that the board will be committed to a healthy, functional relationship with himself.

"Many of the activities described in the report are concerning, but I am assured that the Board is committed to following the good governance principles and practices they signed with me in December," Guskiewicz wrote. "That is what our university deserves, and what our community expects moving forward. As I said earlier, and it’s worth repeating, every member of our campus should be treated with dignity and respect."

As president, Guskiewicz aims "to build on MSU’s celebrated history as a proud land-grant university that is embracing an aspiration to be bold and contemporary in preparing the next generation of leaders." This involves building a culture of collaboration at MSU, he said. 

"As MSU’s strategic plans underscore, our people are the beating heart of the institution," Guskiewicz wrote. "Hearing directly from Spartans, as I already have, will be a critical component of my leadership as we work together to meet our challenges and seize opportunities."

To do this, Guskiewicz will begin his tenure as president with a "community listening and learning tour," and plans to visit all MSU colleges and major administrative units. In doing this, Guskiewicz said, he hopes to identify a "true north" that will maintain MSU’s position as a top-tier research university and provide a high-quality education for students. He invited members of the community to consider the following questions:

  1. What will it take for MSU to maintain and strengthen its position among the top-tier research institutions in the nation?
  2. How will it contribute to the great scientific, medical and social challenges of our time?
  3. And how will MSU continue to prepare students for careers and jobs that don’t yet exist?

Guskiewicz concluded the email by expressing optimism and excitement as he enters his new position as president.

"This is an exciting prospect, and I look forward to advancing MSU’s important role — and fundamental responsibility — as a global public research university serving the people of Michigan and the world," he wrote.

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