The next president of Wayne State University must continue the mission of the urban research institution, possess the skills of an academic administrator adept at managing business and politics, and meet the expectations of the WSU community.
These are some of the early ideas cited by the WSU community about the qualities of the university’s next president, which the university will begin seeking now that President M. Roy Wilson has announced he will not seek another contract when it expires at the end of 2022. -23 school year.
Wilson, who made the announcement Monday in a letter to the university communityHe said during an interview that the president’s job is complex. A good leader would be genuine and share the values he and the university have aligned on, such as diversity and equity, access to higher education, research and translation, and public education, he said.
“My successor needs to be very community-oriented while also being driven by academic excellence,” said Wilson, now in his ninth year as WSU president. “They need to appreciate the value of research and promote it, and they need to appreciate the value of what an urban university is to their community and foster that relationship.”
Wilson, 68, became WSU’s 12th president in August 2013 and will complete a 10-year term at the helm of Michigan’s third-largest public university next year. He currently earns $662,567, according to university spokesman Matt Lockwood.
After he resigns, Wilson will take a gap year and then join the WSU faculty to teach and research in his field of ophthalmology. He also plans to settle with his wife, Jacqueline, in Detroit, where he found a home after many years without one. He said he would also tap into his local and national contacts and mentor young people navigating academic careers, especially students of color.
Meanwhile, the WSU Board of Governors plans to launch a national search for a successor this fall.
what others are looking for
Board President Mark Gaffney said he wasn’t sure what the next president’s qualities should be, but they should be shaped by input from the Wayne State community.
“It’s up to the faculty, the students and the administrators … because they are the university,” Gaffney said. “There will be a lot of people giving their opinion on what the future should hold.”
He said it was not yet clear whether Wayne State would conduct an open search, where finalists for the chairmanship are publicly interviewed, or a closed search, in which the board announces a chairman.
David Rosenberg, chairman of the WSU department of psychiatry, said the next president should be someone who can build on the momentum generated by Wilson, whom he described as humble, inspiring, forward-thinking and transformative.
The next WSU leader could be someone who has a background in medicine and diversity, as Wilson does, since Wayne State has a medical school that makes up a large part of the university and trains most of the doctors who practice locally and throughout Michigan. Rosenberg said.
“It’s someone like Wilson who would model that style of leadership, to challenge every assumption to really seek to build Wayne State into a major community employer, resource here in the city of Detroit and take us nationally,” Rosenberg said. “There are so many areas where we can serve as a national role model…”
Fatima Hammoud, vice president of the WSU student body, said she would like to see the next WSU president engage with students as much as Wilson does. She said that she liked that he regularly met with students, listened to their complaints and worked to help connect them with resources to carry out the initiatives they wanted to undertake.
“I really liked that he had a connection with the students,” said Hammoud, a master’s student in Wayne State’s Clinical Rehabilitation and Clinical Mental Health program. “It gives us a bridge between us and the administration. Having a good relationship (with the next president) would mean that they’re not just there for the paycheck. They’re there because they really care about the students.”
Ups and downs of tenure
Wilson’s tenure has been marked by many achievements, but has also been marred by a divided governing board for some years.
Among Wilson’s accomplishments are improvements in student success, fundraising, and diversity. Highlights of his tenure include Wayne State’s Pivotal Moments fundraising campaign that raised $776.5 million and an expansion of the campus footprint with additions and renovations to numerous buildings.
The Detroit News named Wilson a 2022 Michigan Member of the Year for dramatically improving graduation rates, especially among African-American students.
Bertram Marks, general counsel and co-founder of Detroit Equity, Inc., said he hopes Wayne State will bring in another president with leadership qualities similar to those Wilson has shown, such as seeing the power the university has in helping the community Advance.
“I found that Dr. Wilson was very engaged with community concerns,” said Marks, who works with Detroit’s corporate community to increase the number of Detroiters and people of color represented in the city’s workforce.
“Detroit has a lot of needs,” Marks continued. “A university with the reputation and reach that Wayne State has has to be integral to solving some of Detroit’s problems… It just matters that the (next) person is willing to commit and understand and really see the role of the university as one.” complex to help solve some of Detroit’s inequities.
Marks said the next leader should be like Wilson, who is part of and understands the needs of the community, and is willing to listen and take advice when they don’t have the answer. He highlighted WSU’s program that offers free college to Detroit high school students that he believes is working to eliminate inequalities in Detroit, along with WSU’s Warrior Way Back program that pays off students’ college debt up to $1,500. to help them return and finish their studies. .
“That’s the kind of thing that people in this city really need,” Marks said. “Roy Wilson’s leadership in that area and in the area of increasing graduation and retention rates for Detroit’s African Americans and other people of color, those sensitivities are what the university really needs.”
Two of the board members who were part of the faction that led to widespread infighting a few years ago and included Michael Busuito, Dana Thompson, Anil Kumar and former board member Sandra Hughes O’Brien said the elected leaders are more harmonious, they think highly of Wilson and hope to select the school’s thirteenth president.
Busuito said the next president should have the academic and managerial skills that Wilson and other university presidents have. The next leader must also be educated in politics and business.
“A big university is like running a big city, torn apart by politics,” said Busuito, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. “Especially in public universities that still depend on government subsidies, politics enters a lot into the equation.”
Kumar agreed that divisions on the board have calmed down and that the board and Wilson have worked together to set Wayne State up for great success, especially in the medical school, because of “your leadership and our involvement, we hope Wayne State to be a central university. in Michigan.”
He said the next president should continue Wayne State missions.
“Continue to work with the board, continue Wayne State’s mission: to be (accessible to) local Detroit students, and continue our mission to make WSU the best urban research center in the country and promote our medical school. said Kumar, a urologist.