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MSU trustees vow to stay despite growing calls for their ouster

Posted at 7:05 PM, Feb 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-16 19:05:47-05

Despite repeated and raucous calls for their resignation, MSU’s Board of Trustees announced at today’s meeting that they’re going nowhere.

“No confidence! Step down!” shouted assistant sociology professor Jean Boucher as he was escorted out of the meeting by a police officer. Boucher was one of many at the Friday meeting urging MSU’s eight trustees to give up their posts

RELATED: MSU trustee vows support for sex abuse victims, but opposed them in court

“I am sad, heartbroken and ashamed of this university and its inaction not just in the proceeding decades, but its cowardice in recent months,” said student Samuel Richard Klahn. “When did brand become more important than our mission to teach, inspire and improve the world around us?”

During public comment, Harold Ford took issue with the recent remarks of trustee Joel Ferguson who, in an interview, said former university physician Larry Nassar was “on an island by himself” when he sexually assaulted more than 200 women and girls.

“He wasn’t on an island by himself! You were there with him,” Ford shouted. “I urge you to go into a deep period of self-reflection and do what’s right for this university, the taxpayers that fund it and the young people it serves. Resign.”

Despite an overwhelming vote of no confidence in the board earlier in the week by the school’s faculty senate, each trustee made it clear today that they don’t plan to leave. 

That includes trustee Dan Kelly, who—as we first reported—has spent much of his career defending school districts accused of failing to protect children from sexual abusers.   Kelly slipped out the door today without facing questions but interim President John Engler was asked if Kelly's past legal work made him the right choice for the board.

“I think what concerns me is that everybody here is focused on Michigan State’s mission,” Engler said. “I don’t know what people do in their private occupations and the board here, you check your private occupations at the door.”

Students had a harder time separating Kelly’s conduct in the courtroom with his mission in the boardroom, especially his attempt in a 2006 case to reveal the names of young girls who sued the Warren School district after they were molested by their teacher.  Since they were minors and victims of abuse, they filed their lawsuit anonymously.  Kelly tried to have their names revealed in court.

“Whether or not it was his job—I understand he was a lawyer—but you’re not qualified to lead,” said student Natalie Rogers. “You should not be leading an institution when that’s your background.  Especially with an institution with the problems that we’re having.”

Contact 7 Investigator Ross Jones at or at (248) 827-9466.