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MSU provost resigns in wake Nassar investigation findings

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Posted at 1:26 PM, Sep 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-05 13:26:34-04

New Michigan State University President Samuel Stanley has announced that Provost June Youatt has resigned and that he formed an oversight committee in the wake of the investigations concluded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and Clery Act Compliance Division.

According to the university, the oversight committee will be charged with making sure the actions MSU takes will go in line with the agreements made with the Department of Education and the OCR's letter of findings.

The OCR found that the university violated Title IX in its handling of the Larry Nassar and William Strampel case. On Thursday, the education department fined the university a record $4.5 million and demanded sweeping changes.

A department investigation found that Michigan State violated the Clery Act by failing to disclose crime statistics, failing to issue campus warnings about security threats and failing to establish a system to collect crime statistics. As a remedy, the school says it will hire a "Clery compliance officer" and create measures to protect athletes and children who participate in youth programs on campus.

A separate Title IX investigation found that Michigan State failed to respond to reports of sexual misconduct against Nassar and his supervisor William Strampel , failed to take interim measures to protect students while complaints against both men were pending, and failed to take steps to end any harassment and prevent it from recurring.

As part of its settlement agreement with the department, Michigan State says it will make "substantial" changes to its Title IX procedures and will provide a process to help victims of Nassar, including offering counseling services, grade changes, tuition reimbursement or the opportunity to retake classes at no cost.

  • The school is also being ordered to "consider appropriate sanctions" against current and former employees who failed to take action after being notified of sexual misconduct by Nassar and Strampel.

“OCR’s letter of findings is very clear that the provost and former president failed to take appropriate action on behalf of the university to address reports of inappropriate behavior and conduct, specifically related to former Dean William Strampel,” Stanley said. “In my effort to build a safe and caring campus, we must have a culture of accountability.”

The committee will report directly to Stanley and will include:

  • Marilyn Tarrant, team chair and associate vice president for the Office of Audit Risk and Compliance
  • Shannon Torres, assistant general counsel
  • David Weismantel, university physician and director of the Student Health Center
  • Rebecca Campbell, chair of the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Expert Advisory Workgroup, psychology professor and recently appointed special adviser to the president on RVSM issues
  • Andrea Munford, lieutenant with the MSU Police Department’s Center for Trauma-Informed Investigative Excellence, also recently appointed as a special adviser to the president on RVSM issues

Kenneth Marcus, the department's assistant secretary for civil rights, said the agreement represents an "extensive and robust" resolution. Unlike most Title IX investigations, which are usually triggered by complaints submitted to the department, Marcus' office launched an investigation into Michigan State in 2018 based on the severity of the allegations, he said.

"This message should be heard loudly and clearly by all universities so that the tragedy at Michigan State University is not repeated elsewhere," Marcus said.

Nassar has been sentenced to decades in prison for sexually assaulting athletes, mostly female gymnasts, at Michigan State and a Lansing-area gymnastics club. Former Olympians said he also molested them in Texas and overseas while he worked for USA Gymnastics.

MSU last year agreed to a $500 million deal with Nassar's accusers. Most of the money, $425 million, was for 333 people, mostly women and girls, who had already sued. MSU so far has settled with 72 people in the second wave of litigation but dozens remain.

Strampel last month was sentenced to a year in jail for neglect of duty and misconduct in office. He was accused of failing to monitor Nassar and using his job as a medical school dean to sexually harass students.