MSU Trustee Talks Massive Settlement, Engler’s Controversial Role at the University

Trustee Dianne Byrum says she’s singularly focused on combating sexual abuse and assault on campus.

Michigan State University

Last week Michigan State University reached a settlement deal with more than 300 survivors of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse.

The agreement was for $500 million, an astounding number that MSU Interim President John Engler called “staggering” while a guest on Detroit Today last week.

Many survivors have been on social media decrying MSU’s treatment of Nassar’s victims, even since the settlement.

The reaction to the settlement from university officials has not been unilateral. Some members of the Board of Trustees have remained fairly quiet, some have been loud and controversial throughout this crisis, and some have been vocally and publicly supportive of the survivors.

One of those trustees is Dianne Byrum, who joins Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson to discuss the settlement. 

“I think it’s an important step forward, but it’s not the only step forward,” says Byrum. “I’m committed to making sure we can say ‘never again.'”

Byrum says “actions speak volumes” on campus, and she hopes the policy and procedure changes at the university demonstrate the board’s commitment to ensuring all women are safe and believed when they experience sexual abuse or assault.

In a recent interview, Engler said only about 10 percent of the survivors in the settlement were MSU students, and that 175 mothers were in the examination room when Nassar abused patients. He also said on Detroit Today that he views this crisis as the crimes and fault of Nassar and Nassar alone. Those statements have drawn the ire of survivors, who say they feel routinely re-victimized by university officials and Engler.

Byrum says she believes Engler was the best option MSU had at the time to navigate the institution through this crisis, but she doesn’t defend Engler’s latest comments that drew fallout among survivors.

“John Engler is the interim president,” Byrum says, emphasizing the word “interim.” 

“It is the goal of the board to start the search process as soon as we can.”

Byrum says she doesn’t plan to seek reelection for trustee at MSU.

To hear more from Byrum on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.


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