Opinion

Message to MSU’s trustees: ‘Shut up,’ we explained

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Mercifully, the bee that flew into the bonnet of Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees about President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. has gone and buzzed away. 

Stanley and the Trustees have come to an understanding about how Title IX reports are supposed to be handled from here on out, according to a press statement the Board sent out last Friday. 

The upshot is a couple of outside law firms are looking into an obtuse bureaucratic certification process to double and triple check that sure everything is on the up and up.  

This means A LOT to the officials charged with making MSU is on top of sexual harassment claims and procedures.  

To the rest of us, we just want to know a twisted, creepy doctor isn’t molesting our athletes.  

On the contrary, based on the premature demotion of Business College Dean Sanjay Gupta, it looks like we’re all taking mandatory reporting pretty seriously these days. 

Great. 

Clearly, MSU’s higher ups are super sensitive that everybody is doing everything by the rules after Larry Nassar horrified us all. That’s completely understandable, but this commotion some Board members caused about Stanley’s future due to what amounted to a paperwork miscommunication wasn’t helpful. 

To recap, some Board members felt like Stanley was cutting them out of the loop on Title IX approval processes. Apparently, they are required to sign certain reports, and they didn’t get an opportunity to do that.  

Enough of them were agitated enough about it to start having conversations about a buyout and an early retirement. 

Luckily, cooler heads prevailed. Lucky for all us who care about the Green and White, too.  

The last thing the university needs is to look nationally like we’re still a school neck deep in tumult. 

Do we really need several more national news cycles about how the ghost of Larry Nassar is still floating over East Lansing? Good God, no. 

Between the hiring of an interim president to the hiring of a new president, we’d be reliving the reason for the strict Title IX reports over and over and over again if Stanley were sent packing. 

Contrary to recent history, the position of university president isn’t a Kleenex-level disposable post. John Engler or Lou Anna Simon were shown the door early because a critical mass of public opinion made it difficult for either to stay.  

To the contrary, Spartanland likes Stanley, or at least doesn’t have a problem with him. About 100 members of the MSU faculty signed a letter urging the Board to keep the guy around until at least his contract expires in 2024. 

Enrollment is up. We’re staying out the headlines in terms of scandals. The football team is struggling, but snagging Mel Tucker was seen as a strong move at the time. 

Outside of all of that, Michigan State is paying this Stanley $1.15 million, which is more than all but about 20 other universities in the country. Is buying out a president to stay away because a couple of Trustees who want their own person in there a good use of taxpayer and tuition-paying money? 

We all know the answer to that question. 

From the outside, it appears the newer Board members were the ones who were hasty bringing the ax to the party.  

Instead of working within the Board to smooth things out, Rema Vassar and Pat O’Keefe played around the nuclear button until the Board’s more experienced members, Dianne Byrum and Melanie Foster, pumped the breaks. 

The message they likely shared: If the Board is in the news, 90% of the time it’s because of dysfunction. Dysfunction makes good news headlines, but bad PR for the University. 

In short, nobody wants to hear about the Board of Trustees. In fact, the less the public hears from the Board, the better. Good news should come from the president, the deans, professors and instructors, students, coaches and athletes — not the elected politicians. 

(Email Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news service MIRS at melinnky@gmail.com.)

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