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MSU trustees hire adviser for presidential search

University of Virginia

Michigan State University is hiring a university official with unique experience to advise on the search of MSU’s new university president.  

The MSU Board of Trustees is hiring University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan to serve as an adviser to the presidential search.

“I welcome the opportunity to assist my alma mater as it searches for its next president,” Sullivan says in a written statement. “The process of identifying and selecting a new president is exceptionally important for the future of Michigan State University.”

Sullivan will assist the board in designing and implementing a presidential search.

Sullivan is not only an MSU alumnus, she’s also served as the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan. 

Trustee Diane Byrum says Sullivan brings a lot of experience in hiring top university officials.

“We felt that she was someone that could advise the board on how we can put together a presidential search," says Byrum, "And that’s going to be the extent that she’s going to be advising the board on.”

Byrum says Sullivan will not be a candidate for the MSU president's job.   

But it’s Sullivan’s turbulent tenure at the University of Virginia which may raise some concerns of MSU’s critics.  

During Sullivan’s tenure, UVa was one of more than a hundred colleges and universities investigated by the federal government for their handling of sexual assault allegations.

A 2015 federal investigation found the University of Virginia did not “fully comply with Title IX requirements” fostering a “hostile environment” for survivors of sexual assault.

The investigation focused on incidents between 2009 and 2012, but also looked at allegations in 2013 and 2014. 

Numerouspublished reports claim the university pressed the Obama administration to “soften” the wording in its final report.  The university agreed to a resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education.

At the time, Sullivan issued a statementsaying Virginia had taken steps to “maintain a safe learning, living, and working environment.”

Last year, Sullivan announced she would step down as university president.  Her resignation takes effect later this summer. 

Numerous investigations into sexual assault allegations lead to the ouster of MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon.

MSU recently agreed to a $500 million settlement with hundreds of victims of former MSU osteopathic doctor Larry Nassar.   

There have also been other complaints and lawsuits alleging university officials mishandled other allegations of sexual assault on the East Lansing campus.

This post was updated at 4:15 p.m

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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