Michigan State University will bring in a former Michigan chief justice to run its in-house legal department. Robert Young, who had been serving as a consultant in charge of MSU's responses to various investigations related to Larry Nassar, was named university general counsel Monday by MSU Interim President John Engler.
"Bob did a tremendous job representing MSU during the recent mediation and achieving an equitable outcome for all,” Engler said in a news release. “As the university moves forward, we will draw on his prior appellate judicial experience as well as his time in private practice where he served as a general counsel for one of Michigan’s leading companies. His leadership and expertise will be a great asset to the MSU legal team.”
Young replaces Kristine Zayko. Zayko stepped down earlier this month. Zayko had been acting general counsel, replacing Robert Noto, who left under intense pressure from students, staff and even one board member for his handling of the Nassar case.
The Free Press published a report earlier this month that showed Zayko had knowledge of a 2014 investigation that cleared Nassar of sexually assaulting an athlete. Another member of the general counsel's staff, Theresa Kelley, was deeply involved in the investigation as well.
Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison on child pornography charges and is in a maximum-security federal prison in Tucson, Ariz. He also faces a 40- to 175-year sentence issued in Ingham County and a 40- to 125-year sentence from Eaton County, where he was charged with a total of 10 sexual assaults. Those sentences will not begin until he finishes the federal sentence.
Zayko also was involved in a 2005 meeting where former MSU dean William Strampel's history of sexually inappropriate comments toward staff and students were brought up. Strampel had his contract renewed after that meeting despite concerns being raised.
Strampel, 70, of DeWitt currently faces four criminal charges, including a felony count of misconduct in office. Charging documents accuse Strampel of using his position to "harass, discriminate, demean, sexually proposition, and sexually assault female students."
A former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, Young is currently of counsel with the Dickinson Wright law firm.
Young served on the Michigan Supreme Court from 1999-2017. As chief justice, Young developed and implemented an acclaimed strategic plan to measure judicial performance, track public satisfaction, adopt best practices and implement technologies to expand public access, increase efficiency and boost productivity of trial courts.
Prior to his Michigan Supreme Court appointment, Young served on the Michigan Court of Appeals, was vice president and general counsel at AAA, and was a partner at Dickinson Wright. He also has been an adjunct instructor at MSU and Wayne State University.
He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College.
Young’s appointment is effective June 1. It must be approved by MSU's board.
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