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Timeline: MSU presidents, from Simon to Stanley to Woodruff – Crain's Detroit Business

Teresa Woodruff, right, will become MSU’s fifth leader is as many years, following the terms of, clockwise from upper left, Lou Anna K. Simon, John Engler, Satish Udpa and Samuel Stanley.
Teresa Woodruff is set to become Michigan State University’s fifth leader in the last five years. The school’s board of trustees announced Monday that she’d take over as interim president, the latest move in a series of leadership changes amid tumultuous infighting and crisis.
Here’s a breakdown of the last four university leaders and how the school got to this point.
2005 – 2018
Simon served as Michigan State’s president for 13 years. She had worked for the university since 1974, moving up the ranks in a variety of administrative positions before becoming provost in 1993 and president in 2005.
Simon resigned under pressure in January 2018 over the fallout from the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal and the university’s handling of complaints against the former campus sports medicine doctor. 
Calls for her resignation had risen to a deafening crescendo after painful and emotional testimonies from Nassar’s victims, most of whom were gymnasts he pleaded guilty to abusing under the guise of medical treatment. Simon’s announcement came on the day Nassar was sentenced to 40-175 years in prison and the same day the Michigan House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to call for her resignation.
Since then, state prosecutors have sought charges against Simon, accusing her of lying to investigators in 2018 when they tried to learn what she knew years earlier about complaints involving Nassar. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed a decision by a lower court to dismiss the case against Simon and agreed there was insufficient evidence to send her to trial.
2018 – 2019, Interim
Former Michigan Gov. Engler was settling into semi-retirement when Simon resigned, but his name immediately surfaced in political circles as MSU searched for an interim president, and he was soon unanimously appointed to the position by the school’s board of four Republicans and four Democrats.
However, Engler didn’t bring to campus the style of leadership that Nassar’s victims and the broader community demanded. His confrontational approach and a series of eyebrow-raising comments about Nassar’s abuse routinely got him into hot water during his yearlong tenure as the school attempted to heal following past leaders’ failure to see the red flags surrounding Nassar.
Engler resigned in 2019 to avoid a planned public firing by the board and end a pairing that never seemed to fit an institution in crisis.
2019, Acting
Udpa was hired by Michigan State in 2001 as an engineering professor after teaching at Iowa State University. In 2013, he was named executive vice president for administrative services and served in that position for six years.
Less than 24 hours after Engler’s resignation, the board elevated Udpa to acting president and set a June deadline to find its next permanent leader (which Udpa did not apply for).
Udpa now serves as the interim director of MSU Mobility and is a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering.
2019 – 2022
Stanley, a onetime medical doctor and infectious diseases expert, came to MSU after serving as president of Stony Brook University. Following two stints with interim leaders, the board of trustees voted unanimously to appoint Stanley to the full-time presidential position, which he assumed in August 2019.
Stanley’s decision in August 2022 to demote business school dean Sanjay Gupta — a move tied to Gupta’s alleged violation of university rules about reporting sexual harassment complaints — led to infighting on the Board of Trustees, with some members strategizing to oust him.
That angered many faculty and students, who have accused trustees of improperly interfering with administrators’ decisions. The Faculty Senate recently issued a vote of no confidence in the board for continuing to “destabilize” MSU.
Stanley announced his plans to resign effective Jan. 11, saying he has no confidence in the school’s board of trustees and setting up Woodruff’s appointment as the school’s next interim president.
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