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MSU trustee resigns, cites board's decision not to independently investigate Nassar scandal

nancy Schlichting
Michigan State University

One of Michigan State University's trustees is quitting over the board's decision not to independently investigate the Larry Nassar case, and because the university won't release some 6,000 privileged documents about the case.

Nancy Schlichting was going to be a turnaround agent at MSU. She's a former CEO of Henry Ford Health System. Both Democrats and Republicans saw her as a voice of authority, somebody who could help the school move forward.

But in a scathing resignation letter, she says that's not happening at MSU.

"It has become very clear to me that my commitment to have an independent review of the Nassar situation, and to waive privilege so the truth can come out, is not shared by the MSU Board Chair, legacy Board members, and some newer trustees."

While Board Chair Dianne Byrum has not yet responded to Michigan Radio's request for comment, other reactions poured in Monday afternoon, including a brief press release from MSU's new president, Samuel Stanley. 

"Nancy brought tremendous experience managing large organizations to her role on the MSU Board of Trustees,” Stanley said in his statement. "I’m sorry that she is stepping down, but I wish her much personal success and happiness with her other projects. We valued her insight and contributions while she was with us.”

But some Nassar survivors previously hoped Stanley would push the board to waive privilege and launch a full investigation into how the school handled the Nassar case, including after the former Olympic gymnastics doctor's abuse became public. Stanley has previously said he views this as the trustees' domain.

The governor's office also sent out a statement:

“Governor Whitmer is grateful to Trustee Schlichting for her service to the university. The governor takes her responsibility to appoint a new trustee very seriously. She is committed to appointing someone who will work together with President Stanley and the remaining board members to build a campus culture that respects diversity, listens to survivors, and makes a college education more affordable and accessible for Michigan families.”

In another hit against the university on Monday, former MSU President Lou Anna Simon was ordered to stand trial on charges she lied about her knowledge of allegations against Nassar. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, whose office is prosecuting Simon, sent out a joint press release addressing both the Simon and Schlichting news:

Lou Anna K. Simon Bindover 'Today’s decision to move forward with trial brings survivors another step closer to receiving the answers they deserve. After months of preliminary examination and thoughtful consideration by Judge Julie Reinke, we are ready to bring the facts to a jury of Ms. Simon’s peers.'
Trustee Schlichting’s Resignation 'I respect Trustee Schlichting’s decision to step down and I hope Gov. Whitmer appoints someone committed to transparency, which includes waiving privilege on the nearly 6,000 documents our department has yet to see so that we may complete our comprehensive investigation.'

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Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health and the COVID-19 pandemic.
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