Engler out at MSU now, board of trustees says

FILE - In this July 24, 2018 file photo, Michigan State University Interim President John Engler speaks during a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on "Strengthening and Empowering U.S. Amateur Athletes," on Capitol Hill in Washington. Engler will resign as interim president of Michigan State University amid public backlash over his comments about women and girls sexually assaulted by now-imprisoned campus sports doctor Larry Nassar, a member of the school's Board of Trustees said Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

By COREY WILLIAMS and DAVID EGGERT
Associated Press
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees said today that interim president John Engler’s resignation is effective immediately.
The board acted a day after Engler said he’d step down next week amid fallout from remarks he made about some victims of former sports doctor and convicted sexual abuser Larry Nassar. When the board chairwoman announced during a special meeting that the resignation would be immediate, the crowd broke into loud applause.
“A wrong has been righted today. I’m sorry it took so long,” said Trustee Kelly Tebay, who joined the board this month. Another trustee, Nancy Schlichting, added: “Values matter. Behavior matters.”
Engler, a former Michigan governor, was brought in to help the university recover from the Nassar sexual abuse scandal and had resisted calls to step down in the past. But the final straw came last week when he told The Detroit News that Nassar’s victims had been in the “spotlight” and were “still enjoying that moment at times, you know, the awards and recognition.”
Engler submitted an 11-page letter on Wednesday to Dianne Byrum, chairwoman of Board of Trustees. The letter made no mention of recent criticism of his recent remarks and instead listed what he considered to be his accomplishments in nearly a year of service. He wrote that the university was a “dramatically better, stronger institution.”
“It has been an honor to serve my beloved university,” wrote Engler, who was in Texas attending a burial service for his late father-in-law.
The board appointed Satish Udpa as the new interim president. He currently serves as the school’s executive vice president for administration and is a distinguished professor.
Engler joins a long list of people — including his predecessor as president — who have been fired, forced out of their jobs or charged with crimes amid fallout from the school’s handling of the once-renowned sports physician stretching back decades.
Nassar is now serving decades-long prison sentences for sexually assaulting patients and possessing child pornography.
The Associated Press left messages Wednesday seeking comment from Engler, who was hired last February following the resignation of president Lou Anna Simon.
Byrum, who became chairwoman of the trustees board last week, stopped short of confirming Wednesday that she asked Engler to resign. But she told the AP he had “a decision to make” because the board was poised to name a new interim leader at the meeting. Both Byrum and Mosallam are Democrats, and Engler is a Republican.
Engler’s comments, Byrum said, make “it very difficult for the MSU community to make the changes necessary and rebuild both trust and credibility, and frankly for the survivors to heal.”
Brian Mosallam, a long-time Engler critic, said on Twitter on Wednesday that “JOHN ENGLER’S REIGN OF TERROR IS OVER.” He told the AP the board had enough votes to force Engler out during Thursday’s special meeting at the school in East Lansing.
After Engler was hired, Michigan State agreed to a $500 million settlement with 332 women and girls who said they were sexually assaulted by Nassar. Of that, $75 million will cover future claims.
In April, Engler told another university official in emails that Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to go public with accusations about Nassar, was probably getting a “kickback” from her attorney.