DETROIT (AP) — Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees will seek to oust interim President John Engler if he doesn’t resign amid criticism of comments he has made about victims of imprisoned ex-sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar, a trustee said Wednesday.
Brian Mosallam told The Associated Press that the “the votes are there” to force Engler out at a special board meeting scheduled Thursday at the East Lansing school.
Mosallam said he understood that board Chairwoman Dianne Byrum has reached out to Engler. Both Byrum and Mosallam are Democrats, and Engler is a former Republican governor of Michigan.
In an editorial board meeting Friday with The Detroit News, Engler said women sexually assaulted by the now-imprisoned Nassar have been in the “spotlight” and are “still enjoying that moment at times, you know, the awards and recognition.”
Nassar, who molested hundreds of girls and women while employed at Michigan State, is now serving a decades-long prison sentence for molesting patients and possessing child pornography.
The AP left messages Thursday seeking comment from Engler, who was hired last February following the January 2018 resignation of president Lou Anna Simon following the Nassar scandal.
Mosallam, a long-time Engler critic, said Wednesday on Twitter that “JOHN ENGLER’S REIGN OF TERROR IS OVER.” His tweet followed a post by Byrum announcing Thursday’s meeting.
After Engler was hired by the board, Michigan State agreed to a $500 million settlement with 332 women and girls who said they were sexually assaulted by Nassar. Of that, $75 million will cover future claims.
In April, Engler told another university official in emails that the first woman to go public with her accusations about Nassar was probably getting a “kickback” from her attorney.
The elected board has five Democrats, two Republicans and an appointee who was named last month by then-Gov. Rick Snyder. The board’s makeup became more Democratic in the November election. Engler served as Michigan’s governor from 1991 through 2002.
The university fired Nassar in 2016, two years after he was the subject of a sexual assault investigation. He also worked with the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team.