Photo of a sunrise over a wintery MSU campus. Image courtesy of Michigan State University

An Open Letter to Undergraduate Assistant and Associate Deans

I know you share my shock and sorrow for the damage that has been done by those associated with MSU who were connected to sexual assault. We all admire the courage of the individuals harmed who have come forward and, through the power of their words, are compelling us to change our culture and processes to be accountable and to protect our students and the MSU community going forward. We are inspired by our students who have shown great courage, humanity, and dedication to principle.


These events have an effect on our students, staff and faculty. Some were directly harmed by the crimes currently in the news, more were injured by sexual assault in their own lives, and even more have been touched by the assault of those they know and love. Additional members of our community will be under stress from expending the emotional energy supporting others who are grieving or in distress. Finally, for the many in our community who have devoted much of their professional lives to MSU, there is grief and a sense of betrayal that the institution we love has fallen so far short of the ideals to which we aspire.


I’m writing to encourage you, and those in your units, to continue to consider these realities as we help one another through this difficult period. For example, our advisors and student support staff are on the front lines helping our students with their pain – they deserve our support and consideration to enable them to help our students. Providing informal opportunities for those on the front lines to come together to share their feelings and concerns often can assist those that feel overwhelmed. In addition, our Employee Assistance Program ( is available to all employees, providing confidential counseling for those that may need additional assistance.


Please let me know if there is anything you feel APUE, the Provost’s Office, or others in our central administration can do to help.


Best Regards,


Feedback and suggestions, especially from the MSU community, welcome: email

R. Sekhar Chivukula is the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Michigan State University.