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March 7, 2018

Robert Floden: Rebuilding and implementing change

March 7, 2018

Robert Floden is the dean of the College of Education and University Distinguished Professor of teacher education, measurement and quantitative methods, mathematics education, educational psychology and educational policy. Dean Floden is also co-director of the Education Policy Center.

The past few months have been upsetting, challenging times for everyone who works or studies at Michigan State University. Alumni, friends and colleagues of the MSU College of Education are also very concerned by what has been happening on campus and what it means for our community.

It was absolutely heart-wrenching to hear the statements from the survivors of Larry Nassar’s abuse. I admire the bravery the girls and women showed in speaking out about the former MSU doctor, and only wish that their voices had been heard and heeded much sooner.

I am saddened by the past, present and future suffering he caused. I am also deeply troubled that issues of violence, abuse and harassment on our campus extend beyond this terrible case. It is clear that MSU failed, and we have much work to do.

Most importantly, we must stand in support of all survivors of sexual assault, including members of our College of Education community, and offer them the support they need. This means offering resources, but also reviewing changes that reduce the time needed to obtain help.

As educators, we have a special responsibility for creating environments where people feel empowered to speak, and those in positions of power are ready to listen. We also need to ensure the safety of the students in all our programs.


I want you to know that we have been engaging in conversations that will help to begin healing and build a culture that’s more trusting, safe and accountable. I am working closely with all the deans at MSU to drive change and to listen to faculty, staff, students and alumni.

The College of Education recently held two town hall meetings in which I described the latest developments at MSU. Faculty, staff and students talked about their feelings, shared questions and concerns and suggested potential next steps. We are using input from these events to guide our efforts going forward. Leaders and faculty throughout the college have facilitated other opportunities for open discourse and learning. We will continue to do so.

As we adjust to new university leadership and uncertainty, we must give priority to making changes to our culture that will support speaking out and listening. Rebuilding trust will take time. Open communication will be crucial. I am committed to both.

Visit the College of Education website ( for additional messages, updates and events as we work together to navigate the months and years ahead.