Ex-Michigan Governor Appointed To Lead Michigan State University


LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Michigan State University is turning to a hard-nosed former governor and alumnus to right the ship following scathing criticism over former doctor Larry Nassar’s ability to molest young female athletes for decades under the guise of medical treatment.

The board of trustees appointed John Engler as the school’s interim president at a public meeting on Wednesday, a week after Lou Ann Simon’s resignation. Vice President and Secretary to the Board Bill Beekman’s run as the university’s acting president will end Feb. 5, after 11 days.

Engler, 69, led the state for a dozen years from 1991 through 2002. After leaving office because of term limits, he directed business groups in Washington, D.C.

“As the father of three daughters who just completed their undergraduate degrees, I put myself in the place of every parent who has sent their loved one to this great institution,” Engler said in a statement. “I understand the concern and uncertainty as well as the frustration and anger. To those parents, be assured that I will move forward as if my own daughters were on this campus and will treat every student as I would my own daughters.”

Engler will not be a candidate for the position of permanent president.

The selection was welcomed by allies who said Engler is tenacious, not afraid to ruffle feathers and can steer his beloved “green and white” Spartans through the tumult. He will also have to shake up a culture that critics say led to the university turning a blind eye to victims of Nassar for years. The board will search for a permanent president as Engler navigates mounting investigations, civil lawsuits and a public relations crisis.

“The victims can hopefully rest a little better knowing they’ve got John Engler to straighten the ship. He earns respect. He commands respect,” said Dan Pero, who was Engler’s first chief of staff in the governor’s office. Engler will listen, he said, yet also not be afraid to make tough decisions — having done so when he first won the governorship and, facing a large budget deficit, pushed through cuts to welfare, state mental hospitals and the arts.

“Lord knows there will be many decisions that will need to be made at the school that will upset people,” Pero said. “With change comes pushback. But ultimately with change comes better times.”

The choice already is coming under criticism…



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