Michigan State may soon fire interim president for saying Nassar victims are 'enjoying' spotlight
Michigan State University's interim President John Engler's tenure may be ending soon after his recent comment that Larry Nassar's sexual abuse victims are "enjoying" being in the spotlight.
"This university can no longer move forward with [Engler] at the helm," trustee Brian Mosallam told ESPN.
The board of trustees has scheduled a special meeting for Thursday morning. The agenda includes a "personal action" item, according to reports.
"After he made this statement, it was pretty clear to the majority of the board that something needed to happen," MSU trustee Brianna Scott told the Detroit News. "We all want this to happen, at least the majority of the board. I look forward to casting that vote."
Sources close to Engler told the Detroit Free Press that board chairwoman Dianne Byrum met with him Wednesday and asked him to resign before the special meeting.
Former MSU President Lou Anna Simon resigned in the midst of testimony by more than 200 women against the former doctor last January. Nassar is currently serving a 60-year federal sentence in an Arizona prison.
What was Engler's comment about Nassar's victims?
Engler told the Detroit News' editorial board that the university was making some progress in getting past the Nassar scandal and that some of the former doctor's outspoken survivors have enjoyed the attention they've received.
"There are a lot of people who are touched by this, survivors who haven't been in the spotlight," Engler said, according to The Detroit News. "In some ways, they have been able to deal with this better than the ones who've been in the spotlight who are still enjoying that moment at times, you know, the awards and recognition. And it's ending. It's almost done."
His remark outraged Rachael Denhollander who was the first to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual assault.
You mean, like having to change the day I grocery shop so my three kids don't see a photo of their mom demonstrating what was done to her body?" Denhollander told ESPN. "Tell me more about how enjoyable this spotlight is."
What else did the trustees say?
Upon his appointment, Engler pledged to help move the university past the scandal and treat Nassar's survivors as if they were his own daughters.
But the former Michigan governor has angered survivors and others since taking over the helm nearly one year ago.
"I have watched Engler not only interact with our courageous survivors but our faculty, employees and students as well," Mosallam told the Detroit News. "He's not only a bully, he is a mean-spirited human being. His time is up."
TScott said it's time to start the healing process at the school.
"People need to understand we are making the changes we have been requested so long," she told the newspaper. "We need to set the university on a path toward healing ... He is divisive, makes horrible choice of words ... It just can't happen again. We thank him for his service but goodbye to him."
Engler apologized at a past board meeting for some of his previous insensitive remarks about the survivors, according to ESPN.