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Law firm urges Whitmer to review removing Michigan State trustees Vassar and Denno

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Last Updated on February 29, 2024 by Robert C. Hoopes

An outside law firm’s report released on Wednesday has recommended that Michigan State University Board of Trustees Chair Rema Vassar and Trustee Dennis Denno be referred to Governor Gretchen Whitmer for possible removal from office. The report also suggested Trustee Brianna Scott be censured for violating the standards of the MSU Board of Trustees’ Code of Ethics and Conduct.

The investigation was launched after allegations were made by Scott against Vassar, accusing her of violating board rules and bullying members and administrators. The 66-page report found some of the allegations to be substantiated, but attributed some of the behavior to a misunderstanding of shared governance principles.

Vassar’s lawyer has disputed the findings, claiming that the most serious charges were unfounded and denying any harm to the university. Scott has acknowledged the report’s findings and expressed hope that Vassar and Denno would take responsibility for their actions and resign from their positions.

State law allows for the governor to remove board members for gross neglect of duty or corrupt conduct in office. The report has also recommended the development of new guidelines for trustees regarding gifts, travel, and compliance with the Trustee Conflict of Interest Policy.

Amidst these controversies, MSU President-elect Kevin Guskiewicz is set to begin his term on Monday as the university’s 22nd president. The Board of Trustees is currently reviewing the report and considering steps to enhance governance practices moving forward.

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