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University investigating gesture made by Vassar

April 12, 2024
<p>Trustee Rema Vassar makes a gesture during a March 3 meeting. This gesture appears to show Vassar raising her middle finger, but it is unclear whether it was intentional. </p>

Trustee Rema Vassar makes a gesture during a March 3 meeting. This gesture appears to show Vassar raising her middle finger, but it is unclear whether it was intentional.

MSU board chair Dan Kelly said the Office of Audit Risk and Compliance is conducting an investigation into a gesture former board chair Rema Vassar made during a March 3 special meeting of the board. 

The gesture, which appears to show Vassar raising her middle finger, was made during a meeting the board held to address an outside investigation into board impropriety. It is unclear whether this gesture was intentional.

“If true, the board condemns those actions," Kelly said during Friday's Board of Trustees meeting. "The board is supportive of OARC completing its review and any recommendations or potential corrective actions it deems to be in alignment with its findings." 

That investigation found that Vassar and her ally on the board trustee Dennis Denno interfered in university affairs, accepted gifts from donors and used students to orchestrate a campaign against rivals, among other things

It also recommended the trustees be referred to the governor for potential removal, censured and stripped of their committee assignments, all actions the board voted to take

Hours before the March 3 meeting, Vassar resigned as board chair

Vassar attended today's board meeting over Zoom.

Emails obtained by The State News through a public records request show that on March 5, the MSU General Counsel Brian Quinn sent a screenshot of Vassar allegedly making the gesture to other MSU personnel

The name of the person who Quinn sent the email to was redacted

Public records also show that the board’s communications manager, Ebony Stith, sent an image of Vassar allegedly making the gesture to other MSU communications employees

“Good morning Emily and Andrew sending you this for awareness,” the text said. “Not sure if the media will pick this up. Dr. Rema’s middle finger was up when Trustee Byrum and Trustee Scott were speaking.”

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