East Lansing, Mich.—The chairman of Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees said he had to get something off his chest.
It was the board’s first regularly scheduled meeting following the criminal-sentencing hearings of the former sports-medicine doctor Larry Nassar. And Brian Breslin, facing an overwhelming vote of no confidence from the university’s faculty, had already indicated he would not step down. But then he struck a different tone. Breslin’s “conscience would bother [him],” he said, if he didn’t speak his mind.
The crowd of hundreds gathered there—already quivering with anger over the Nassar debacle—seemed to perk up in anticipation of some further statement on the scandal.
Instead, Breslin touted the $550 million rare-isotope accelerator that the Department of Energy placed at MSU in 2008; the board had just received a progress report on the facility, which has been an economic driver in the state. The accelerator is a signature achievement of the longtime MSU president Lou Anna Simon, who resigned in January amid criticisms of her handling of the Nassar scandal. Breslin recalled that the federal government had planned to locate the project in several different places but that Simon persuaded lawmakers to put it all in East Lansing. “So at some personal risk I take in saying this, whatever else her legacy may be, there would not be a Michigan State University without the leadership and organizational skills of Lou Anna Simon,” he said.