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Jan. 29, 2018

Cheryl Sisk: Forging a culture of responsibility, respect and mutual support

Cheryl Sisk is interim dean of the College of Natural Science. On Jan. 26, 2018 she wrote a letter to the College of Natural Science community regarding recent events at the university.

I am profoundly saddened and heart-broken by the harm and suffering inflicted on the survivors by the despicable actions of Larry Nassar. I can only imagine the pain that the survivors and their families have endured and continue to experience. We all feel the shock, disbelief, shame and sorrow in coming to grips with the fact that something this horrendous and of this scope happened within our community.

Out of the recent whirlwind of survivor impact statements, the Nassar sentencing and the resignation of President Simon, comes a critical juncture and opportunity for change at Michigan State University.

No one has all the answers right now, but the first step is to honor and support the girls and women who had the courage and fortitude to confront Larry Nassar and expose him for the contemptible person he is. We can’t change the past, nor can we make the victims whole again. But we can resolve to look honestly at ourselves, learn from our failures and commit to changing the culture that permitted this tragedy to occur.

My priority in the coming weeks and months is to work collaboratively within the college and with other deans and colleges across the university to begin to rebuild the trust that will foster openness, honesty and accountability as we work to create a community that is more responsive, just and safe.

The path we are now on will undoubtedly be difficult at times. The example set by these women and girls stands as a model of inspiration and right action for all of us. May we, as a university community, emulate their bravery and resilience as we seek to forge a culture of responsibility, respect and mutual support at MSU.

NatSci continues to actively listen and seek input/feedback for the path forward. Activities and events held to date by the college include a Town Hall meeting for NatSci students, a Town Hall meeting for human biology students, special meetings of NatSci’s Faculty Advisory Council, Student Advisory Council, undergraduate directors, chairs and directors, and Dean’s Office staff to check in with our community. A Town Hall meeting for NatSci staff is scheduled for Feb. 8, and classroom visits by interim dean Sisk and other NatSci leadership are happening as requested. Other events, activities and actions will be communicated as they develop.