MSU president on hot seat; trustee urges him to retire early

EAST LANSING, Mich. – The president of Michigan State University acknowledged a “moment of uncertainty” on campus amid tension with the school’s governing board and some calls for his departure.

Samuel Stanley Jr., who has been president since 2019, defended his administration’s handling of the resignation of the business school dean during an appearance Tuesday night at the Faculty Senate. He did not directly address his own job.

“I want to thank everyone for their messages of support and encouragement and to those who spoke in public supporting the provost and me,” Stanley said, referring to MSU’s chief academic officer.

“There are so many things swirling around right now. ... And in this moment of uncertainty my number one priority remains the health and safety of our community and fostering a culture of accountability,” Stanley said.

Meanwhile, trustee Rema Vassar said it was suggested to Stanley that he should retire, despite two years remaining on his contract.

“That conversation was a conversation between the board and President Stanley. That should not have been leaked,” Vassar said.

The MSU board recently hired a law firm to investigate the departure of Sanjay Gupta, who resigned as business dean. Stanley said he was surprised that trustees took that step.

He said there were “failures of leadership” related to Title IX, the federal law that bars sex discrimination in programs that receive federal aid.

Stanley warned against “politics and other considerations” interfering with academic work.

Board chairwoman Dianne Byrum has publicly defended Stanley.

Several trustees, she said, “have sought to undermine and second-guess President Stanley under the mistaken belief they are somehow better qualified to run the university.”

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