EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees is apologizing to the victims of Larry Nassar, as they begin their first steps towards replacing President Lou Anna K. Simon.
The board Friday afternoon unanimously approved a resolution accepting Simon’s resignation and appointing Bill Beekman as acting president until a permanent replacement can be found.
Board Chairman Brian Breslin also read a statement in which the board apologized to Nassar’s victims and said the institution hasn’t been focused enough on them.
In the statement, the board acknowledged its failures in operations process and culture and talked about bringing in a third party to review how it handles health and safety on campus.
“We cannot change the past, but we can and will devote our time and resources to foster healing and move forward together,” Breslin concluded.
After that, each trustee individually addressed the campus community.
>>App users: Listen to the trustees responses here.
“I’m sorry to the courageous survivors, the victims of the largest sex abuse case in American history. I am so truly sorry. We failed you,” Trustee Brian Mosallam said, trying to hold back tears.
“We must restore the trust and confidence to this university. This must never happen again,” he added, pledging to hold a town hall with faculty and students and asking for a third party to monitor the university’s progress.
Trustee Dan Kelly also addressed the survivors.
“I am proud of you. You will change this university, and you will change it for the better,” he said.
Trustee Melanie Foster tearfully apologized to the survivors for the unresponsiveness of the university and acknowledged Friday’s retirement of MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis.
“Mark Hollis is a man of integrity and a true Spartan. He caused us to think out of the box with his creative spirit,” she said before choking up. “There are so many counts today that this is a very sad, sad chapter in our history.”
Trustee Dianne Byrum also said she was sorry for what happened to the victims.
“We made mistakes. I’ve made mistakes. I tried internally with the Board of Trustees and didn’t raise my voice loud enough in the public space. I’ve learned from that mistake and I will not repeat it,” she said. “This is about the victims. This is about changing the culture at Michigan State University that allowed a predator to exit among us. Never again can this happen. Never again.”
“We’re awful sorry for the trouble we’ve caused those poor women. And we will make sure to do everything in our power to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Trustee George Perles.
“It’s hard for me as a father to fully grasp how this went unchecked for over 20 years,” Trustee Mitch Lyons said, after apologizing to the survivors.
“I want all of our daughters to feel safe here,” Lyons said emotionally. “MSU needs to be better than this, and we will be.”
Trustee Joel Ferguson said he took an interview in a week that should’ve been about the survivors. He also apologized for his choice of words and emphasis, and to his fellow trustees.
“How I handled an interview, put a target on their back,” he said.
Ferguson also said he was eager to work with student leaders to make MSU a “poster child” for how to deal with sexual abuse.
Breslin also offered his “sincerest apology” to Nassar’s victims, and promised a thorough review and corrections. He said the focus of MSU needs to change from lawsuits to helping victims heal.
Breslin also called on Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to announce his investigation into how the Nassar situation as soon as possible, but asked him to consider appointing a neutral, independent party to avoid any possible political influence.