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Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

Sen. Gary Peters and MSU Interim Pres. John Engler Go Toe to Toe in Senate Hearing

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Image credit: Photo Courtesy of the Office of Gary Peters

It’s not just about a settlement. It’s also about a healing process and working with these survivors,” says Peters.

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Cheyna Roth/MPRN
Cheyna Roth/MPRN

Tuesday, Michigan State interim president John Engler testified at a Senate hearing about sexual abuse on college campuses.

Although MSU hired Engler was hired to help bring the university through the crisis of the Larry Nassar scandal, he has faced sharp criticism for his cold and calloused treatment of abuse survivors. One decision in particular that drew criticism was the fact that MSU has not formally disciplined any faculty in the wake of the Nassar scandal.


In Washington, several senators, including Michigan’s Gary Peters (D-MI), confronted Engler on his handling of Nassar affair.

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with Gary Peters on Engler’s senate hearing. 

On MSU’s decision to let former dean Dr. William Strampel retire from his post:

When it was all said and done, they let him retire and he got $175,000 severance,” said Peters. “That’s usually not a firing for being the supervisor that oversaw Dr. Nassar and all of the horrible things that he did. And now, he also finds himself in court for his own set of criminal charges.”

On the work of the survivors:

They want to see a change of the culture where folks know that they can step forward with the belief that something very horrible has occurred and that someone’s going to take it seriously and not just listen to them but hear what they’re saying and then take action and actually look into those situations, which they feel just never happened.”

On Engler’s decision to hire from the inside:

He said there was going to be a national search for an athletic director. That didn’t happen. They brought in an insider. They have another insider overseeing the Title IX cases right now that’s been appointed on an interim basis. That individual is basically a lawyer that was brought in to protect the university and to shield the university.”


Henderson also speaks with Cheyna Roth, a Capitol reporter for Michigan Public radio, who attended Engler’s hearing.

On Engler’s responses to Senators’ questions:

He’s an old pro. This isn’t his first time in front of a committee hearing. It might not even be his last.  He really was focused on explaining what the school has done to improve itself during his 6 months as the interim president,” says Roth. 

He really tried, with multiple questions, to keeping bringing it back to that. Here are the different policies we’ve put into place. We hired more people. These are all the things that we’re doing to not only improve Michigan State University but try and make it something of a national model for other universities to prevent something like this from ever happening.”

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

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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