01 February, 2018
"John Engler is the right choice to be Michigan State University's interim president", said Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, a Republican from DeWitt Township, Mich.
Engler graduated from Michigan State and spent decades in politics, including leading the state as governor from 1991 to 2003.
The appointment caps two weeks of turmoil on campus that began in earnest January 16 with the sentencing hearing of Larry Nassar, a former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics sports medicine doctor, in Ingham County Circuit Court.
Trustees also named another former governor, Democrat Jim Blanchard, to advise the school as it faces lawsuits filed by more than 100 girls and women and investigations by the state attorney general, the NCAA and Congress. In thanking Engler and former governor James Blanchard, who is also coming aboard in a senior role, trustee Joel Ferguson said the board was taking swift action.
Amid the fallout, the board had expressed support for Simon before her resignation, while she continued to face huge pressure from students, faculty and legislators.
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The move to bring in Blanchard was created to get a unanimous vote of support for Engler, empowering him to make house-cleaning moves to change what Democratic Trustee Brian Mosallam called "a culture that enables sexual misconduct" on the East Lansing campus. "I am proud of my support of their work even though the results have been very painful to all who watched", Simon said. We suggested that a strong effort be made to place a woman with extensive academic leadership experience in this position, because her lived experience would provide needed wisdom at this juncture. On Facebook, she called Engler a "deep political insider" at a time Michigan State needs outside accountability.
"I think the first thing to do is they need to bring their survivors to the table. But ultimately with change comes better times".
But she is hopeful he will lead the university in a new direction.
Engler said he'd moved swiftly to enact changes that will "protect anyone" affiliated with the campus from sexual assault, harassment and bullying.