EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State University Interim President John Engler sent the following letter to staff, students and alumni on May 17, 2018:
This has been an important week for our Michigan State community.
The damage done over a period of years by one evil doctor harmed hundreds of girls and young women, including 31 who were MSU students. The assaults by Larry Nassar shocked our campus and the nation. The testimony of so many survivors and their families touched the hearts of Spartan nation. Our university has apologized, expressed regret, and pledged to act so that such abuse could never happen again.
The changes made to assure patient safety on our campus are numerous and significant. (Read about them in the “Safer Campus” PDF.) However, we have known that for the healing process to really begin, it would require more than apologies and reforms in our clinics. For the survivors and their families and for the university to truly move forward, we would have to resolve the litigation that resulted from the Nassar crimes. We would need to achieve a fair and equitable outcome. I felt that a settlement among the parties would be the best answer, and that could only come through mediation. Since I arrived on campus, completing a prompt and successful mediation of the Nassar litigation has been a top priority for the university and for me.
That is why we were pleased yesterday to announce that attorneys representing 332 survivors in lawsuits against MSU and attorneys for the university reached an agreement in principle to a $500 million global settlement. The Board of Trustees agreed to the settlement in principle during a May 15 conference call.
You can read about details of the global settlement in the attorneys’ joint announcement and the statement from Board of Trustees Chairperson Brian Breslin.
You should be aware that all of MSU’s insurance carriers participated in the mediation and that we expect all of them to fulfill their contractual obligations. In addition, since a $500 million settlement is substantial, I will be working with the Board of Trustees in the days ahead to develop a strategy to carry out our responsibilities required by the settlement.
The early and successful conclusion of mediation will be beneficial to those who have suffered at the hands of Nassar, and their families, by avoiding years of litigation and allowing them to begin the recovery and healing they seek. It also allows MSU to continue making important change to prevent sexual misconduct and assaults on and off our campus while creating a safer and more respectful community for all who attend, work at, or visit MSU.
These changes include increased staffing for sexual assault prevention, reporting, and counseling offices, new awareness training for students and employees, and stronger oversight of campus youth programs. I’ve asked supervisors to be more diligent in recording concerns about employees’ behavior. We are taking steps to more fully engage the entire campus community in awareness and prevention activities and to improve communication across the board. We are putting special emphasis on our record class of new students coming to campus for orientation in preparation for freshman year in the fall.
A fuller description of our actions is detailed on the Our Commitment website, or in downloadable form in the “Safer Campus” working document. I encourage you to access them, and if you think anything has been overlooked, please send us your ideas for improving campus using the suggestion forms. We will continue to review policies and procedures over the summer and, in some cases, reporting and organizational responsibilities.
The settlement announcement is important for the healing process, not only for the survivors, but also for the university community. I want to thank all who have supported and worked so hard to get to this fair and equitable outcome for the survivors.
Like you, I deeply regret the injury done to so many girls and young women, and to their families, by a physician operating under the aegis of this university. For that, I, and every leader on this campus, apologize, but more important, we offer the comprehensive actions being taken as proof we are serious about changing MSU. I’m proud of how Spartans have been working together in support of these changes to foster a safer campus.
Finally, I want to personally thank the MSU community for its support, advice, and encouragement to me. My appointment generated controversy, but I accepted the challenge because I love MSU and know our best days are ahead. We will move forward through this difficult period, and I know we will emerge stronger.
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