Interim President Engler: Statement on accepting responsibility as interim president, Jan. 31, 2018

The following statement is something I wish never had to be written. The gravity of the situation is so serious and with so many lives affected, I and Spartans across the nation are in disbelief that this has occurred at our university. But it has and I stand here with a level of resolve to commit all of my energy toward finding solutions.

Our main concern will always be the survivors and doing everything possible for them.
We owe it to them to fix the problems and change the culture so that a better MSU will be their legacy and they know that something positive came out of their suffering.

I am only here to help the university community address this crisis and lay a positive foundation for a permanent new president.

We have an extreme organizational challenge that must be addressed and I expect to use not just my experience as governor but also my apolitical experience running two national organizations.

It is humbling to accept this interim president position in these difficult times for my beloved alma mater MSU.

As the father of three daughters who just completed their undergraduate degrees, I put myself in the place of every parent who has sent their loved one to this great institution. I understand the concern and uncertainty as well as the frustration and anger. To those parents, be assured that I will move forward as if my own daughters were on this campus and will treat every survivor and every student as I would my own daughters.

In the coming weeks, I will be moving swiftly and decisively to implement changes that will protect anyone affiliated with our campus from sexual assault, harassment or bullying. Everyone should understand that this extends to all Spartans, on campus, off campus, in dorms, in frat houses, in apartments or wherever they may be. Anyone affiliated with the university will face the same scrutiny and the same expectations as to their conduct.

As part of the healing process, I ask that we all hold the victims who are now survivors of abuse close to our hearts and minds. Give them support, love and prayers to help them cope and recover. To those survivors of Larry Nassar, I am amazed by your strength and courage and I will not let your efforts be in vain.

This will not be a process that is played out through the media on a daily basis, but mark my words, change is coming. We will make announcements as warranted and will keep the public informed as appropriate.

I encourage the Board of Trustees to move forward expeditiously in seeking a full-time president. That needs to be a person who can lead this great institution with its outstanding faculty and staff.

I ask my fellow Spartans for their prayers and well wishes as we all move forward past this excruciatingly difficult time for the university and for so many people affected by the lack of responsiveness to their claims.

Finally, I give my commitment to do everything in my power to fix the situation, protect our students, repair the damage to MSU and plot a course forward so we can all hold our head up high and call ourselves Spartans.

I’ll conclude with something my daughter, Hannah, said to me and will always stick with me: “The only innocents in all of this are those who were victimized.”

John Engler
Interim President