MSU trustees announced their hiring of a new university president Tuesday morning — a former medical doctor and the current leader of Stony Brook University in New York.
But while Samuel Stanley, Jr. may be a qualified, inspirational leader, the hiring process loaded an additional valise on the job’s already formidable baggage cart.
Former MSU President Lou Anna Simon is facing criminal charges in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal, as reports of Nassar’s abuse surfaced more than 10 years before on her watch.
Then John Engler, former Michigan governor, took the helm only to resign a year later after several callous blunders — like offering cash payouts to abuse victims and accusing them of “enjoying” the “spotlight” — forced his hand.
Executive vice president for administration Satish Udpa stepped in while a search committee formed — in private.
Perhaps a rolling stone gathers no moss — but just because it doesn’t stick doesn’t preclude said moss from dramatically increasing its downward rate of travel.
Why saddle the new boss with an extra transparency issue? His plate is full enough.
Have done with the cloak-and-dagger nonsense; keeping secrets and protecting the wrong people is what landed MSU in the soup to begin with.
Hiring leadership is on the agenda of several agencies closer to home — Traverse City Area Public Schools is getting a new superintendent; Northwestern Michigan College is getting a new president; Munson Medical Center is getting a new president; Traverse Connect got a new executive director and so on.
Public boards do have options. They can make things easy or difficult for the public to participate. Often boards do this in the name of protecting the applicants, who may not have apprised their current employers of their job search.
We use our judgment and rarely publish names of applicants and discards — but we’re definitely interested in the contenders, who is backing them and the conversations around this.
We encourage our local community college board to conduct their search with an open-door approach.
Working in the public eye is not for everyone. Let it be for those whose actions stand up to scrutiny, and those who deem the public worthy of knowing what they know.
Secrets can’t heal what’s broken at MSU. We wish the new president the best of luck. He has a lot of baggage to carry, and secrecy compounds the weight.