Whitmer calls latest allegations against MSU board chair 'deeply concerning'

Amid internal strife within Michigan State University's Board of Trustees where one has called upon the chair to be removed from ther position, the governor called the accusations "deeply concerning" and a "huge breach of the public's trust."

"This university has been rocked by scandal after scandal with no clear unified leadership or direction and tragically no accountability either," said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a statement. "Right now, there are too many questions and not enough answers. The university owes it to students, alumni, and our entire state to get to the bottom of this and take appropriate action."

The governor's statement follows a letter authored by trustee Brianna Scott who called for board chair Rema Vassar to be removed that was published over the weekend. It alleges Vassar has overseen a fracturing of the board, leading to violations of codes of conduct, engaging in wrongful influence over moves seen by the board, and accusing her of bullying other board members and workers.

The letter, first reported State News Sunday, says the trustees had tried to manage the issues behind closed doors. 

"However, it has only led to more bullying from Dr. Vassar and potentially harmful consequences for the University we have been entrusted to protect," the letter says.

Scott said if Vassar didn't step down, she would call on other trustees to remove her before referring the case to the governor's office. The Michigan governor has the power to remove a trustee.

Democratic trustee Dianne Byrum agrees with Scott. But Democratic board member Dennis Denno tells the Detroit News he supports the chair saying some board members are making "false accusations and grandstanding."

Whitmer is not taking a stance on all this, although she does have the power to remove any board member. 

Instead, her office issued this 74-word statement saying if the charges are accurate, "it would be a huge breach of the public's trust."

The latest allegation follows a damaging string of conflict originating out of, or including, the board of trustees. Most recently, the school fired its head football coach following the publishing of allegations out of its office of civil rights that Mel Tucker sexually harassed and pursued a contracted worker.

The Board of Trustees has also struggled with hiring a new president after its former president resigned from his position for failing to work with the board. It's also still dealing with the fallout of a mass shooting earlier this year. 

Whitmer ordered the board to "get to the bottom of this." But so far she has not said, "or else."