MSU Faculty Senate calls for Vassar’s ouster, cites accreditation risk

East Lansing — Michigan State University’s Faculty Senate opened a new front Thursday in the call for board chair Rema Vassar to step down over accusations of bullying and overstepping her authority, saying the school could risk its accreditation over her alleged conduct.

The resolution reiterated claims lodged by some trustees, alleging Vassar inappropriately interfered with matters delegated to the administration, appeared in an advertisement for the private wealth management firm founded and managed by a former trustee, and traveled on a donor’s private jet and dismissed suggestions that her conduct was not consistent with the university’s standards.

The resolution said Vassar’s alleged actions could cost the school its accreditation.

The Higher Learning Commission, MSU’s accreditor, demands that the “governing board preserves its independence from undue influence on the part of donors, elected officials, ownership interests or other external parties,” the Faculty Senate’s resolution said.

The commission also requires that the “governing board delegates day-to-day management of the institution to the institution’s administration and expects the institution’s faculty to oversee academic matters,” according to the resolution.

MSU Vice Chairperson Dan Kelly, Interim President Theresa Woodruff, and Chairperson Rema Vassar participate in a meeting in Grand Rapids on Friday, June 16, 2023.

Dan Kelly, who chairs the Board of Trustees’ Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee, issued a statement Monday that Trustee Brianna Scott’s allegations against Vassar on Sunday triggered an investigation by the university’s Office of Audit, Risk and Compliance.

Kelly’s statement came as Scott’s call for the resignation of the MSU board chair divided leaders in the African American community. Vassar and Scott are Black.

Calls to Kelly on Thursday were not immediately returned.

Scott outlined in her letter calling for Vassar to step down 10 reasons why Vassar should resign or be removed as board chair. Among them was that Vassar has not allowed her cellphone to be reviewed as part of an investigation into an allegation that a board member leaked during an investigation the identity of Brenda Tracy, the rape survivor activist who accused former MSU football coach Mel Tucker of sexual misconduct.

Vassar traveled on university business on two occasions on an MSU donor’s private jet with Tucker; posed with former MSU trustee Brian Mosallam in an ad for his business, Spartan Wealth Management group, congratulating her on being elected as chair; and allegedly attempted to negotiate a settlement in a lawsuit against the university by former MSU business school dean Sanjay Gupta without the authority from interim President Teresa Woodruff or board members, Scott alleged in her letter.

Vassar could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday. The first Black woman elected to chair of the Michigan State University board, she has described the allegations as “fabrications” and “untruths.”

“The culture that creates this kind of animosity and chaos and confusion is an unhealed campus with climate that is toxic,” Vassar said. “This is going to continue to repeat itself over and over again. There has to be an interruption and intervention.”

Michigan State University Board Chair Rema Vassar listens during the trustees meeting.  Photo taken in East Lansing, Mich., Friday, Apri 21, 2023.

MSU representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday about the risk to its accreditation or the senate’s action.

The faculty said that if Vassar does not resign, the Faculty Senate would call on the board of trustees to remove her as chairperson and call on the governor to begin the process of removing Vassar from the board.

Texts and calls to Faculty Senate Chair Jack Lipton were not immediately returned Thursday night.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Spartan alumna, on Monday described the allegations as

Last month, MSU hired the global law firm Jones Day to investigate how Tracy’s name got leaked to news organizations regarding her confidential sexual misconduct claim against Tucker, who was subsequently fired after Tracy’s claims were made public.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Spartan alumna, on Monday described the allegations as “deeply concerning.” If accurate, the Democratic governor said, Vassar’s actions would represent a “huge breach of the public’s trust.”

“I’m not going to render any judgment. I think we gotta get the facts,” Whitmer said. “And, if at some point there’s a role to be played, I am going to ensure that I go in in an unbiased manner and with as much information that’s available. But these investigations have to play out.”

X: @wordsbyjakkar

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge, Black Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

Get Insightful, Cutting-Edge, Black Content Daily - Join "The Neo Jim Crow" Newsletter!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

This post was originally published on this site