EAST LANSING, MICH. - A second MSU trustee has called for the resignation of university President Lou Anna Simon and the Michigan State University Board of Trustees is expected to meet Friday.
Trustee Dianne Byrum said in a statement issued late Wednesday that she supports Simon's immediate resignation and the investigation of the Attorney General to "provide a full accounting of what happened and take an important step toward restoring trust."
Byrum's statements came on the day disgraced former MSU physician Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison on seven charges of sexual assault. Most of the charges relate to abuse that he perpetrated on his patients; one involved the daughter of family friends.
The seven-day sentencing hearing for Nassar featured victim-impact statements from some 156 women and girls who said Nassar abused them. The case drew national attention for nearly two weeks, with growing pressure on Simon and the board.
The next day, Trustee Mitch Lyons broke ranks, saying he no longer supports Simon.
Several elected officials, former MSU athletes and others assaulted by Larry Nassar have called for Simon's resignation.
Trustee Joel Ferguson, who has strongly supported Simon, declined to comment on Wednesday.
Ferguson drew attention on Monday for remarks in a radio interview that referred to the "Nassar thing" and recounted Simon's prowess at fundraising for the Breslin Center, home of the Spartan basketball teams.
After a day of sharp criticism, Ferguson apologized, saying he meant to say "Nassar tragedy."
Byrum also had sharp words for Ferguson, saying she was "disgusted by the abhorrent comments made earlier this week" and that Ferguson "does not speak for other members of the MSU Board in any way."
Student government has called for a change in leadership at the university, and two members of the faculty senate on Monday called for a vote of no confidence in Simon, which began a lengthy process toward holding such a vote.
Numerous state politicians and others have called for Simons' resignation. Late Wednesday U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, a Democrat from Oakland County who has a degree from MSU, called for Simon's resignation, as did U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan.
The Michigan House of Representative voted 96-11 Wednesday on a resolution calling for Simon to resign immediately or for the board to fire her.
A student protest is scheduled for Friday night on campus to demand Simon to resign. The protest is expected to be held by MSU College Democrats, a registered student organization.
“We think that right now the biggest concern is (Simon) because she just doesn’t command the faith or the respect of the study body to do the job well any longer," said Eli Pales, a MSU student and organization spokesperson.
Read the full statement here:
Michigan State University Trustee Dianne Byrum issued the following statement today:
“It is clear that the public has lost confidence in the current administration of Michigan State University, and changes are needed to move the university forward.
First, I support the resignation of President Simon, effective immediately, and I support the investigation by the Attorney General that will provide a full accounting of what happened and take an important step toward restoring trust, which has understandably been shaken.
Second, I am disgusted by the abhorrent comments made earlier this week by Trustee Joel Ferguson, who does not speak for other members of the MSU Board in any way.
Unfortunately, through this terrible situation, the university has been tone deaf, unresponsive, unapologetic and insensitive to the victims. As a woman who has always fought for womens’ rights and victims’ rights, and encouraged women in all areas, it is deeply troubling to me that so much pain and suffering has been caused by my alma mater.
A full public accounting, top to bottom, is long overdue and I support it, along with a change in the current administration and a change to the culture at Michigan State University. We owe it to the victims, the public and ourselves to do the right thing and let the healing begin.”
Eric Lacy is a reporter for the Lansing State Journal. Contact him at 517-377-1206 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @EricLacy.
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