That’s exactly the approach Lou Anna Simon took in her letter resigning as president of Michigan State University.
A few days ago, I posted a blog explaining why Simon needed to step down in the wake of the horrific Larry Nassar scandal. My point was that Simon’s resignation should serve as the first step in the long healing process—for Nassar’s victims, for their families, for MSU, for the university’s many stakeholders.
Last night, Simon resigned. And she did so through an appalling tome that laid blame everywhere but at her feet. You can read the letter here.
Simon makes a small effort to acknowledge the pain of the young women whom Nassar molested. Sadly, that effort is all but lost in a letter that spends its time explaining why none of this is Simon’s fault and, incredibly, all but equates the victims’ pain to Simon’s own.
Simon had a perfect opportunity to start the healing. She could have accepted her responsibility, as president of the university, for the failure of systems to catch and stop Nassar. She could have expressed sincere empathy for the women. She and the Board of Trustees, who in their defensiveness have been shockingly dismissive of the Nassar scandal, could have laid out an aggressive plan for rooting out the failures, holding people accountable, changing systems, reaching out and rebuilding trust—starting with her exit. Instead, the disingenuous, tone-deaf messaging continues.
In her letter, Simon states, “I have tried to make it not about me.” In fact, that’s all her letter does.
And the healing has yet to begin.