Update from the MSU Board of Trustees

Jan. 18, 2019

Dear MSU community:

Michigan State University has been working hard to make needed improvements in preventing and responding to relationship violence and sexual misconduct and to better ensure patient care and safety. But none of our work will matter if our leaders fail to heed the feelings and sensibilities of survivors and our community. John Engler’s insensitive statements did not reflect the values of our university, to the dismay of the Board of Trustees no less than to our global community of Spartans.

So yesterday the board accepted Mr. Engler’s resignation as interim MSU president. We appointed Satish Udpa to serve as acting president until the conclusion of our ongoing presidential search and anticipate naming a permanent president in June.

The board recognizes this has been an unsettling year for our community as we experienced not only the disclosures of abuse suffered by the survivors of Larry Nassar, but the resignation of a longtime president, naming of acting and interim presidents, and now the appointment of another acting president. I can say without reservation that the board feels Dr. Udpa is the very best person at this moment to restore our confidence in the administration of the university and to guide us forward.

Acting President Udpa is known by many in the campus community as a thoughtful, compassionate leader, with decades of experience in higher education in multiple capacities. Before being promoted to executive vice president for administrative services, he served as dean of the MSU College of Engineering and chairperson of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. A highly respected scholar, prior to joining MSU in 2001 he was the Whitney Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University. He had also served as the permanent secretary of the World Federation of Nondestructive Evaluation Centers and earned his doctorate in electrical engineering from Colorado State University.

His wife Lalita is also an MSU faculty member, in the College of Engineering. Together, they have two grown children – daughter Natasha, who received her doctorate in mechanical engineering from Cornell University and lives in San Francisco, and son Anant, who is working on an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Master of Public Policy degree from Harvard University.

Acting President Udpa is now responsible for all duties associated with the Office of the President and, further inspiring confidence, has the support of deans and the faculty and student liaisons to the board.

With the engagement of new trustees, appointment of a new acting president and a renewed sense of optimism that I believe is widely shared in the MSU community, the board can better focus on rebuilding trust in the institution, repairing its reputation and restoring the affection of the global Spartan family. We are witnessing and living through a difficult chapter in our history, but I think we will surprise many with our Spartan resilience. We still have a long road ahead to change our culture in a real and sustainable way, but this board is committed to walking it with respect and compassion.

Please join me in congratulating Acting President Udpa.

Dianne Byrum
Chairperson, MSU Board of Trustees