MSU’s chief diversity officer, also a key witness in Simon case, transitioning to advisory role
Lansing State Journal
EAST LANSING – Michigan State University’s chief diversity officer, also a key witness in the case against a former school president, is preparing to transition to a senior advisory role.
MSU President Samuel Stanley announced in a Friday email that Paulette Granberry Russell is planning to “transition from her position” as director of the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives. Granberry Russell also has served more than two decades as senior adviser to the president for diversity.
“Paulette is planning some personal and professional changes and transitions in the coming years,” university spokeswoman Emily Guerrant clarified in a Wednesday email.
Granberry Russell joined MSU’s ranks in 1998 to advise then-president Peter McPherson on diversity issues.
She’s planning to transition from her current role to a purely advisory position once the university brings a new chief diversity officer on board, Guerrant said.
Stanley described Granberry Russell as “instrumental” in the university’s adjustment to a “changing legal landscape that impacted our admissions policies, academic programs and employment strategies.”
Granberry Russell was key in establishing MSU’s Diversity Research Network and “has initiated innovative (diversity, equity and inclusion) programs,” Stanley added.
Until less than five years ago, her office also was in charge of investigating discrimination complaints, including cases of sexual assault. Those responsibilities shifted to the Office of Institutional Equity in 2015.
“Because of Paulette’s work, MSU has many strengths and a long history of institutional commitment to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion,” Stanley’s email reads.
MSU to implement new diversity initiatives
Granberry Russell will start a term as the first woman president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education in March 2020, according to the email.
She’ll remain in her current role while MSU searches for her replacement and will continue to advise Stanley during a transition period to work on special projects and initiatives.
That work will keep her at MSU for “a while,” Guerrant said.
As part of the new initiatives, Stanley plans to recommend that the Board of Trustees create a new position: vice president and chief diversity officer. The new senior-level employee will replace Granberry Russell as head of the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives and take on expanded efforts to coordinate diversity initiatives.
“The individual in this role will develop, nurture and strengthen an inclusive, equitable, safe and culturally responsive and supportive environment for all students, faculty and staff,” Stanley’s email reads.
Also key witness in Simon case
Granberry Russel’s name may be familiar for another reason — she’s a key witness in the Michigan Attorney General’s case against former MSU president Lou Anna Simon.
Prosecutors say Granberry Russell told Simon the details of a 2014 sexual assault complaint against now-convicted sex offender Larry Nassar.
At the time, the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives was responsible for Title IX investigations into sexual harassment or abuse on campus, along with investigations into other discrimination complaints. An investigator from the office responded to an April 2014 complaint from Amanda Thomashow, a patient who had been treated by Nassar at MSU’s sports medicine practice.
Investigators point to Granberry Russell’s notes and agendas from two May 2014 meetings as evidence that she discussed the complaint in detail and Nassar’s name in particular with Simon.
Those documents and Granberry Russell’s testimony are key in the AG’s case against Simon, who is charged with four counts of lying about her knowledge of Nassar’s conduct during a 2018 interview with Michigan State Police troopers at their headquarters in Dimondale.
Granberry Russell has repeatedly said she doesn’t remember either the details of the May 2014 meetings or the substance of a phone call she had with Simon around that same time.
Contact reporter Megan Banta at (517) 377-1261 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MeganBanta_1.
This content was originally published here.