MichMash: MSU trustees face removal over misconduct allegations

This week on “MichMash,” host Cheyna Roth and Gongwer’s Zach Gorchow speak with Gongwer reporter Elena Durnbaugh about the alleged misconduct. 

Photo of a Michigan State University sign

Two members of the Michigan State University Board of Trustees have been accused of bullying and misconduct following an independent investigation. In this week’s episode of MichMash, host Cheyna Roth and Gongwer News Services’ Zach Gorchow were joined by Gongwer reporter Elena Durnbaugh to discuss the details of the allegations.

Subscribe to MichMash on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, NPR.org or wherever you get your podcasts.

In this episode:

  • The MSU trustees facing removal over alleged misconduct
  • The role Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will play in the trustee removal process.
  • Bipartisan support and hesitation for film incentives in Michigan.

The board convened a late-notice special meeting Sunday night following the release of a report that found Trustees Rema Vassar and Dennis Denno overstepped their authority multiple times, creating a “fear of retaliation” among administrators and MSU staff.

Durnbaugh said the meeting — which occurred over zoom — appeared tense, and was held at 10 p.m., an atypical time for the board to convene.

“[It was] a very surprising time for a public meeting. Everyone had a very clear idea of what they were there to do but there wasn’t any camaraderie,” she said.

At the meeting, trustees voted 6-2 in two separate motions to censure Vassar and Denno and refer the matter to the governor’s office, who has the authority to remove them from office.

Another topic that is flying under the radar is that lawmakers are considering film incentives in Michigan. Though the idea has some bipartisan support, others are hesitant to move forward.

“Republicans are asking what’s the goal and what’s the point of this. Democrats seem to be concerned about making sure the [film] industry is one with well-paying unionized jobs,” Durnbaugh said.

Gorchow said the main point of contention is “state government and tax dollars going to Hollywood.”

“There is not enough bang for the buck,” he said. “The state is handing out taxpayer money to these film studios who set up shop for 4-6, two-week productions and how does that benefit Michigan.”

Arjun Thakkar and Eli Newman of WKAR Public Media contributed to this report.

More from WDET:

More from Gongwer:

Support the podcasts you love.

One-of-a-kind podcasts from WDET bring you engaging conversations, news you need to know and stories you love to hear.

Keep the conversations coming. Please make a gift today.

Give now »


  • Hernz Laguerre
    Hernz Laguerre Jr. is a Multimedia Journalist at 101.9 WDET. He is one of the co-host for "Detroit Evening Report," one of the weekend anchors for "Weekend Edition," the producer for our political podcast, "MichMash," and reports on arts, culture and politics.