Disgraced former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon will retire from the university at the end of August, according to a report from MSU Today. It’s been a long and ignominious slide for Simon, whose 15-year tenure as president at MSU was marked by a “culture of indifference and institutional protection” that allowed Larry Nassar to sexually abuse dozens of gymnasts while on staff at MSU.
It’s the context of Simon’s retirement that make its particulars seem especially screwy. She was essentially forced out of office in January 2018 over her handling of the Nassar case, and in November she was charged with two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts of lying to police during their investigation of accusations against Nassar. Simon stayed on at MSU as tenured faculty, and according to the Detroit News “took a voluntary unpaid leave of absence while facing criminal charges in Eaton County.” Prior to that unpaid leave of absence, the beginning of which coincided more-or-less with the criminal charges, Simon was entitled to a $750,000 salary from the university, for “research leave.”
Wherever she goes next—Mackinac, Brussels, prison—she will not lack for funds. According to the terms of her retirement, Simon will receive three payments from Michigan State, for a total of $2.45 million dollars. Also she will apparently get something called a “presidential portrait,” with one important caveat: if she is found guilty in Eaton County, the university reserves the right to jam that portrait in a linen closet:
“The University will publicly recognize Dr. Simon and her spouse in the same manner as other President Emeriti and spouses and Distinguished Professor Emeriti and spouses, including commissioning an official portrait of Dr. Simon paid for by the University and displaying the portrait consistent with the practice for presidents emeriti; however, such public recognition of Dr. Simon’s emeritus status may be withheld if the pending criminal charges result in a felony conviction that is upheld after all post-trial motions and appellate issues are finally adjudicated.”
The full retirement agreement is below, for your perusal: