Magazine article University Business

Gauging the Damage of Michigan State-Type Scandals

Magazine article University Business

Gauging the Damage of Michigan State-Type Scandals

Article excerpt

The trial and conviction of former Michigan State University team physician Larry Nassar--and the subsequent resignation of long-time president Lou Anna Simon, among others--brought a tremendous amount of negative publicity to the school.

Such a high-profile scandal--particularly one centered on sexual abuse, negligence and student welfare--affects an institution at every level, including enrollment and admissions. Once an institution's reputation is compromised, it can take years to rebuild.

After the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal broke at Penn State in late 2011, the university saw a drop in applications during the next two admissions cycles. However, by 2014, applications numbers had recovered, and have subsequently increased to record levels.

An institution needs to confront damaging publicity head on, says Tom Green, associate executive director of consulting and strategic enrollment management for AACRAO. Perception is key, so admissions personnel need to discuss the facts openly and not try to spin the situation.

Face the music

"The first thing administrators really have to address is, 'Is the campus safe for students?'" says Green. "That is the No. 1 issue. Not who covered it up, not who knew about it. …

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