MSU Board of Trustees moves to reopen Healing Fund for Nassar survivors

Michigan State University first Board of Trustee Meeting of 2019.

Michigan State University embarked on a new chapter Wednesday as the newly appointed Board of Trustees voted for the first step in reopening the Healing Fund for survivors of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse.

After a 40-minute delay, the trustees unanimously approved a resolution to ask the university to establish a fund to help with the cost of counseling and mental health services for survivors.

The original $10 million fund was established in Dec. 2017 to help survivors with medical expenses related to healing from Nassar’s abuse. The fund was closed a year later and the remainder of the money, approximately $8 million, had been transferred to the $500 million settlement fund for survivors.

The motion was brought forth by Board of Trustees Chairwoman Dianne Byrum and Trustee Brian Mosallam. The details of the fund, including the price tag, have not been announced and Byrum said more conversations will take place in February at the Board’s next meeting.

“The difficulty its always going to be in the details,” she said. “[We] had all eight board members to add it to the agenda because we all thought it was very important to make that statement."

At the final meeting of the Board in December, Mosallam said he would make it a point to reinstate the fund as soon as possible and added he was hopeful the incoming trustees would help make that a priority.

Wednesday, he echoed Byrum’s sentiments and said this was the first step to creating change. Mosallam added that while everyone on the board agreed the fund needed to be reopened, it was not immediate clear the best route to take.

“When we all got in a room collectively and understanding, hey, a lot of us want to get to the same conclusion and a lot of us have a different way of doing it and some were hesitant about the parameters, how are we structuring this, not to make the same mistake we made before,” Mosallam said. “So I think when we agreed on a resolution where we would go back afterward and work on the granular detail, everyone got on the same page. It really wasn’t a question of if, it was more of when and now the question is how.”

Trustee Kelly Tebay, one of the three new members on the board, said establishing the Healing Fund again was the first step in a long road to change.

“I ask for your patience as we try to change a culture that is not going to happen overnight,” Tebay said during the meeting.

This first meeting brought fewer public comment speakers than usual, but those who did speak on the topic of the Healing Fund stopped short of praise.

“While I think this is a good step, it’s not necessarily something to pat yourself on the back when all you’re doing is reinstating the thing you did before,” said MSU Graduate Employees Union Political Action Committee Chair Cody Mejeur.

The board also voted to select Byrum as the new chairperson and Trustee Dan Kelly as the Vice Chairperson. Each will serve for two years.

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