LANSING, Mich. — On a 20–18 vote Thursday, Republican state senators blocked the appointment of former State Rep. Jon Hoadley to the Western Michigan University (WMU) Board of Trustees, garnering wide criticism from Democratic lawmakers.
Hoadley, a Democrat and former representative from Kalamazoo, was appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in February and is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the university, which is the reason Republican leaders pointed to in pushing for his disapproval. State Sen. Aric Nesbitt (R–Lawton) says it raises “serious conflict of interest concerns.”
“University boards are responsible for managing multimillion-dollar budgets, setting tuition and ensuring the quality of education for thousands of Michigan students. Surely our governor could have identified individuals more qualified for these important positions,” Nesbitt said on the Senate floor.
Democratic lawmakers slammed their Republican colleagues for voting down Hoadley’s appointment, alleging the outright rejection of Hoadley without a hearing could be based on the fact that he is openly gay.
“You have not given us any good reason to reject this appointment of a qualified nominee. This is shameful. This is absolutely shameful,” said State Sen. Jeremy Moss (D–Southfield), who is also gay.
“The most comprehensive policy proposal from the Republican party over the last several weeks and months, the most fleshed-out core value of the Republican party, is preventing LGBTQ people from fully participating in our educational institutions," Moss added.
The criticism continued on social media. State Senator Erika Geiss (D–Taylor) tweeted, “full on homophobia happening by Senate Rs.”
Attorney General Dana Nessel also chimed in, tweeting, “If it wasn’t already clear that MIGOP has declared open warfare on LGBTQ people, it should be now. Jon Hoadley is more than qualified for this position. This vote is outrageous.”
In a statement posted online, Hoadley said he was extremely disappointed the Senate disapproved of his appointment.
“The faculty, staff, and students at WMU are doing important work, which I have spent years supporting in my community and in the Michigan Legislature. I was excited to continue that support as a member of the Board of Trustees. This action, taken without even a hearing, is counter to the spirit of open debate and study that is a hallmark for higher education institutions. Regardless of today’s vote, I remain committed to WMU, the Kalamazoo community, and am ready to work with anyone,” said Hoadley.
On Thursday, Senate Republicans also blocked the appointment of retired professor Dr. Michael Ryan to the Ferris State University Board of Trustees.