Engler to lead Michigan State
LANSING (AP) — Michigan State University is turning to a hard-nosed former governor and alumnus to right the ship following scathing criticism over former doctor Larry Nassar’s ability to molest young female athletes for decades under the guise of medical treatment.
John Engler, 69, led the state for a dozen years from 1991 through 2002. After leaving office because of term limits, he directed business groups in Washington, D.C.
The board of trustees will name Engler the school’s interim president at a public meeting on Wednesday, a week after Lou Ann Simon’s resignation, according to a high-ranking university official involved in the deliberations. The official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity before the public vote occurred.
The selection was welcomed by allies who said Engler is tenacious, not afraid to ruffle feathers and can steer his beloved “green and white” Spartans through the tumult. He will also have to shake up a culture that critics say led to the university turning a blind eye to victims of Nassar for years. The board will search for a permanent president as Engler navigates mounting investigations, civil lawsuits and a public relations crisis.
“The victims can hopefully rest a little better knowing they’ve got John Engler to straighten the ship. He earns respect. He commands respect,” said Dan Pero, who was Engler’s first chief of staff in the governor’s office. Engler will listen, he said, yet also not be afraid to make tough decisions — having done so when he first won the governorship and, facing a large budget deficit, pushed through cuts to welfare, state mental hospitals and the arts.
“Lord knows there will be many decisions that will need to be made at the school that will upset people,” Pero said. “With change comes pushback. But ultimately with change comes better times.”