After a weekslong standoff with the Board of Trustees over the handling of a dean’s resignation and other issues, Michigan State University’s president, Samuel L. Stanley Jr. announced his resignation on Thursday. He had been president of Michigan State since 2019.
“I, like the Michigan State University Faculty Senate and the Associated Students of Michigan State University, have lost confidence in the action of the current Board of Trustees,” Stanley said in a video posted on Thursday to announce his 90-day notice of resignation, “and I cannot in good conscience continue to serve this board as constituted.”
Stanley’s decision to resign occurred a week after both he and the university’s provost, Teresa K. Woodruff, criticized the publicly elected board’s recent actions in strongly worded letters.
The board began an external investigation into the circumstances surrounding the forced resignation of Sanjay Gupta, dean of the Eli Broad College of Business. After failing to report allegations of sexual harassment by a subordinate, Gupta was ousted by Woodruff in August — a decision that Stanley supported.
But some board members questioned how that decision had been made, and they decided to hire lawyers to conduct their own review. In their letters to the trustees, Stanley and Woodruff condemned the board’s legal team for contacting a handful of faculty members for interviews.
Stanley had also been criticized by several board members over how he had handled campus reports of sexual misconduct and whether he had complied with a new state law. The law requires the Michigan State president and one board member to certify annually that they have reviewed all Title IX reports involving employees.
Stanley’s future at Michigan State had been in doubt since the Detroit Free Press reported a month ago that some Michigan State board members were trying to oust him. That news was met with a surge of support for the president from the campus community. Nearly a hundred prominent faculty members signed a letter showing their support for him.
Board members sparred publicly over the question of whether Stanley should be forced to step down, and university officials confirmed that the trustees were discussing his contract, which had been scheduled to run through 2024.
Stanley is the third Michigan State president to resign since January 2018. Two presidents previously resigned in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse scandal. Stanley was formerly president of Stony Brook University, part of the State University of New York system.
“The actions of the campus over the past month have shown the world that Michigan State University will not accept micromanagement by board members of the operations of this great institution,” Stanley said in the video, “and that we will hold individuals, no matter what their rank, accountable for their actions.”