UPDATE, Jan. 17, 2019: John Engler submitted his resignation to Michigan State University's Board of Trustees on Wednesday evening in an 11-page letter that stated five members of the board had requested he step down.
"When I arrived I found a university in crisis," he wrote. "Cascading disclosures of sexual abuse by former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics sports doctor Larry Nassar by early 2018 had made MSU an troubled institution."
Engler detailed his accomplishments over the course of his one-year tenure as interim president, including his role in the university settling with Nassar's victims for $500 million, launching a working group on sexual misconduct issues and closing a nearly $1.8 billion capital campaign.
"The bottom line is that MSU is a dramatically better, stronger institution than it was one year ago," he wrote.
MSU named Satish Udpa, the executive vice president for administrative services, as the university's new interim president, the Detroit Free Press reported.
In his letter, Engler said he would officially resign on Jan. 23, but the board has moved to make his departure effective immediately, according to The Associated Press.
- Engler was expected to resign amid reports that the institution's board of trustees planned to fire him and appoint a new interim president, The Detroit Free Press reported on Wednesday. Prior to his announcement, the board indicated to The Detroit News that it had the votes needed to oust Engler.
- Engler, a former Michigan governor, came under fire after he was reported saying during an interview last week that some of former sports doctor Larry Nassar's victims are "still enjoying" being in the "spotlight."
- He took over the presidency after Lou Anna Simon stepped down early last year under pressure for the university's handling of sexual assault allegations against Nassar. A Michigan State representative didn't immediately respond to Education Dive's request for comment.
Engler has repeatedly drawn criticism for his public comments and emails that have sought to discredit Nassar's victims. Among them, he faced criticism during his testimony at a U.S. Senate hearing on how the university handled its response to the scandal, for allegedly not making eye contact with some of Nassar's victims when they testified and at a board meeting, and for his decision to end a counseling fund for victims.
In June, an email exchange revealed he suggested the first gymnast who publicly made allegations against Nassar, Rachael Denhollander, must have been getting a "kickback" from her lawyer. Engler later apologized to Denhollander and avoided being removed from his post at that time, which some board members and lawmakers had called for.
At that point, only a few board members supported his ouster. Since then, two female Democratic candidates have been elected to the board who were seen as critics of how the university handled the controversy, possibly tilting the board against him.
Engler's resignation comes amid Michigan State's search for a new president, who is expected to be selected this summer.
Reclaim MSU — a group of students, staff and faculty that formed in the wake of the Nassar scandal — have called for the university to pick a candidate from outside of the institution. It contended that current leadership hasn't done enough to respond to sexual misconduct on campus.
In an open letter, the group wrote that any internal candidate in the university's "calcified, top-down, secretive and retaliatory culture cannot effectively change it."
Engler is just the latest university official to face repercussions for his handling of the scandal. Three former MSU leaders — including ex-president Simon — are facing charges stemming from accusations that they covered up or did not adequately respond to allegations of sexual abuse against Nassar.
The charges came as part of an investigation by the state attorney general's office into the university. According to The Detroit News, at least 14 Michigan State representatives in the last two decades were aware of Nassar's behavior prior to his arrest in 2016.