Dive Brief: 

  • The interim president of Michigan State University, Teresa Woodruff, announced Sunday that she will not seek the role on a permanent basis
  • Woodruff last fall became the university’s third interim president in the last five years as the institution continues to grapple with the fallout from sexual misconduct and abuse scandals. 
  • “I wish for a period of stability for the university,” Woodruff said in a statement. “To enable that goal, I do not seek the full-time presidency but will support the individual selected for this role as they assume the helm.” 

Dive Insight:

Woodruff, Michigan State’s former provost, became the university’s fifth president in as many years in November 2022. The leadership turnover began when Larry Nassar, a former Michigan State sports doctor, was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for criminal sexual misconduct after dozens of women came forward about his abuse under the guise of medical treatment. 

Lou Anna Simon, then-president of Michigan State, stepped down amid widespread criticism about her administration’s handling of the scandal, as well as accusations that officials had covered up Nassar’s abuse. 

Most recently, Dr. Samuel Stanley Jr. announced his resignation in October amid pressure from some board members to retire early. The Nassar controversy contributed to tensions with the trustees. 

Stanley faced accusations that he didn’t follow the proper process for certifying Title IX reports involving allegations of sexual misconduct against university workers — a requirement the Michigan Legislature enacted following the Nassar scandal. 

Concerns also arose over how Stanley handled the departure of a business school dean over allegations that he failed to report sexual misconduct. That dean, Sanjay Gupta, resigned from the position in August after being asked to do so by Woodruff, according to a March report from an outside law firm. Gupta remains an accounting and information systems professor at Michigan State. 

Earlier this year, Gupta sued Stanley and Woodruff, among other university officials, over the incident. He alleges that he didn’t violate the policy and that Woodruff defamed him so he would not be named the next university president, effectively removing her competition. 

While the March report found Gupta did violate the policy, it determined that the personnel actions against him were inconsistent with discipline handed down to other employees who didn’t follow mandatory reporting rules. 

Woodruff’s tenure has also been marked by a mass shooting. In February, three Michigan State students were killed and five others critically wounded by a gunman on campus. A few months after the shooting, the university approved a budget that included $8 million to support campus safety, student and employee well-being and its Title IX office. 

In her statement Sunday, Woodruff wrote that Michigan State has continued “to heal from the violence” and chart a path to a safer campus. 

 “The next chapter is ready to be written with a new president at the helm,” Woodruff said.