Former Michigan Gov. John Engler, the interim president of Michigan State University, said today he feels “tremendous progress” has been made during his six months on the job at putting in place mechanisms to prevent any recurrence of the Dr. Larry Nassar sex predator disaster, and inculcating a climate of safety and “changed attitudes” for undergraduates on the East Lansing campus.
Engler said the difference between news media coverage today and how the press covered Michigan’s 1977 PPB crisis, when thousands of cattle had to be destroyed after they had ingested feed contaminated with a fire retardant, is the absence of deep analysis of what happened, how and why.
“I remember (the PPB crisis) very well. It was a disaster. Donald Albosta (a St. Charles farmer) said, “I rode a dead cow to Washington” in the 1978 campaign for U.S. Representative in a northeast Lower Peninsula Congressional District. Democrat Albosta served three terms in Congress before being ousted in 1984 by a political neophyte named Bill Schuette (R-Midland).
“Yes, there were sensational elements about what happened with PPB and our experience at MSU with Larry Nassar, and the media covered those both times, as they should have,” said Engler. “But what’s missing today is the analysis of why everything happened as it did, and what are the options going forward. What is being done, how can we improve the situation and make sure it never happens again?”
Engler said he hoped his testimony before a U.S. Senate committee in Washington early this week will help alert other institutions of higher learning around the country that they must have policies and procedures in place to prevent any Nassar-like incidents from happening on their campuses.
Engler said he expects MSU’s new legal counsel, former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Young, will prevail in the university’s battle with its insurance carriers to “honor their policies” to help pay costs MSU incurred from the Nassar case, including a $500 million settlement with the victims. The university sued the insurance companies in Ingham Co. circuit court yesterday.
The ex-governor said he doesn’t feel the Michigan Legislature needs to do anything more dealing with the MSU/Nassar fiasco than it already has.
Engler answered questions for 20 minutes on Bill Ballenger’s “The Political Insider” talk radio show, airing statewide on a dozen Michigan stations this coming week-end.