EAST LANSING, Mich. (FOX 2) - Hours after former Gov. John Engler said he was resigning as Michigan State's interim president, the Board of Trustees approved a motion to appoint a new leader: Dr. Satish Udpa.
Engler's proposed resignation date was Jan. 23. The Board met Thursday morning and unamiously agreed to accelerate his resignation, and to appoint Dr. Udpa as new interim president, effective immediately. Udpa currently serves as the school's executive vice president for administration and is a distinguished professor.
The board members took turns speaking after approving the motion. All seemed to share the same sentiment that they were looking forward to healing and moving forward with Udpa as president, while paying respect to survivors. Some apologized and said they are righting a wrong. Engler quit amid public backlash over his recent comments about Nassar survivors "enjoying the spotlight."
"A wrong has been righted today, and the first thing I have to say is, I'm sorry it took so long," Trustee Kelly Tebay said to a growing round of applause. "To the survivors and your families, and this community: we hear you; we're listening; and we are sorry it took so long. I really hope this is the first step in a long road to really changing the culture of this institution. ... This is an important day and I think this is a day we will all remember when the ship turned around."
Engler -- who had resisted calls to step down in the past -- quit in an 11-page letter to Dianne Byrum, chairwoman of Michigan State's Board of Trustees.
The letter made no mention of recent criticism of his recent remarks and instead listed what he considers to be his accomplishments in nearly one year of service, saying the university is a "dramatically better, stronger institution."
The remarks in question came last week, when Engler told The Detroit News that Nassar's victims had been in the "spotlight" and are "still enjoying that moment at times, you know, the awards and recognition."
With his sudden reversal, Engler joins a long list of people -- including his predecessor as president -- who have been fired, forced out of their jobs or charged with crimes amid fallout from the school's handling of the once-renowned sports physician stretching back decades.
After announcing Udpa as new president, Board Chair Dianne Byrum said she believes this is "the beginning of a better relationship, both among Board members and to the MSU community as we continue the healing and pay respect to the survivors."
Nassar is now serving decades-long prison sentences for sexually assaulting patients and possessing child pornography.