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Reports: Job of Michigan State Interim President in Doubt After Comments on Abuse Victims

January 16, 2019

Michigan State University's board has scheduled a special meeting Thursday morning to discuss "a personnel matter" amid growing calls for the ouster of John Engler as interim president.

Engler has been under increasing criticism for comments he made about some of the scores of victims of Larry Nassar, the former university employee now in jail for abusing them. In an interview with The Detroit News, he contrasted those who have received public attention with those who have not. "You’ve got people, they are hanging on and this has been … There are a lot of people who are touched by this, survivors who haven’t been in the spotlight," he said. "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."

Michigan State declined to comment when Inside Higher Ed asked if Engler had any response to those angered by his remarks. This was not the first time Engler has been in the news for controversial remarks.

One trustee, Brian Mosallam, told The Detroit News, "I have watched Engler not only interact with our courageous survivors but our faculty, employees and students as well. He's not only a bully, he is a mean-spirited human being. His time is up."

Another trustee, Joel Ferguson, said, "We’re better off looking for a new president right now and having less controversy and less drama as possible. We just have to put our best face forward."

Mosallam told The Detroit Free Press, "John Engler's reign of terror is over. Michigan State University will be returned to its people."

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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