National News

Michigan State names former Gov. John Engler as interim president

Posted January 31, 2018 9:00 a.m. EST

— Michigan State University's board of trustees named former Gov. John Engler on Wednesday as its interim president following the upheaval over Larry Nassar's decades of abuse.

Engler was chosen "from outside the institution to provide strong leadership during this critical time," according to board Chairman Brian Breslin.

Engler, a longtime Republican politician who was governor from 1991 to 2003, takes over for Lou Anna Simon, who resigned last week.

Michigan State has faced significant criticism for employing Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor, for years, even as he sexually abused young athletes on campus. The former associate professor and team physician at MSU admitted in court that he sexually abused young girls under the guise of providing medical treatment.

'I was humiliated'

In an Ingham County, Michigan, court over the past two weeks, more than 150 women spoke out about Nassar's two decades of abuse. Several of those victims said they reported his abuse to various Michigan State leaders but their concerns were brushed aside or not taken seriously.

"I told Michigan State University back in 1997," Larissa Boyce said in court. "Instead of being protected, I was humiliated. I was in trouble and brainwashed into believing that I was the problem."

Others have criticized the university and the board of trustees for their response over the past 18 months to the revelations of Nassar's abuse. Last week, MSU trustee Joel Ferguson apologized after he tried to downplay the abuse case by saying there "are so many more things going on at the university than just this Nassar thing."

Simon's resignation letter was similarly criticized for its seeming unwillingness to take responsibility for Nassar's abuse.

"As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable," Simon wrote in her resignation letter. "As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger."

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has appointed a special prosecutor to search "every corner" of the university and to understand how Nassar was able to continue terrorizing young women for so long.

Michigan State has denied there was any cover-up of the abuse and has apologized to all those affected by their failure to stop Nassar.

"To the survivors, I can never say enough that I am so sorry that a trusted, renowned physician was really such an evil, evil person who inflicted such harm under the guise of medical treatment," Simon said.

"I know that we all share the same resolve to do whatever it takes to avert such tragedies here and elsewhere."