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Wayne State University

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Jun 11 / President

New leadership for Wayne State

Wayne State was hopping last week as the campus welcomed the election of the University’s 12th President, M. Roy Wilson, M.D., M.S.  I believe the chair of our board, Governor Debbie Dingell, said it best when she referred to Dr. Wilson as “the right leader at the right time for Wayne State.”  I agree, and not just because Dr. Wilson will allow me to try retirement a third time.

The search committee and the Board did excellent work, and a number of top-notch candidates were interested in becoming President. But Dr. Wilson’s background and experience make him the right fit for WSU — and vice versa.  

We adjusted our carefully-orchestrated plan to introduce Dr. Wilson after word leaked to the press last Saturday. And when we announced a special Board meeting, the guessing was pretty much over. But, if anything, this seemed to heighten the interest to meet the new President, and many from the campus and community had the chance to meet Dr. Wilson and hear his initial thoughts about Wayne State and the opportunities ahead.

His trip included an open campus reception on Thursday, and I was pleased to see so many people attend to welcome Dr. Wilson and wish him well. At the reception, he told a story that I found fascinating. It seems that he had entertained the idea of being a university president several years back, but only, he related to a friend, “if it could be at a university like Wayne State.” Sometimes things work out.

I’ve only spent a little time with Roy, but it doesn’t take long to see that he is a remarkably intelligent, insightful, and passionate person.  He mentioned to me that he believes his presidency at WSU will be the capstone to an already impressive career.  I know the feeling.

Being the president of WSU is a great job, and I considered the job of helping to pick my successor as a major responsibility.  I couldn’t be more pleased with the result.

I was scheduled to retire on June 30, but I’ve agreed to stay on until Dr. Wilson takes over on August 1. Phyllis Vroom, our deputy president, also has agreed to stay on until August 1. After that, I promise I’m going to remain retired.  

Last week was historical for the University, but the week before was important as well.  At the Mackinac Policy Conference, the University Research Corridor (URC) — the consortium of Wayne State University, Michigan State University, and the University of Michigan — released a report that shows our three universities play a critical role in entrepreneurship. The survey results are stunning: URC alumni started or acquired businesses at double the national average among college graduates since 1996. No, not all entrepreneurs are garage tinkerers with high school diplomas. Most are university graduates, and many graduate from major research universities like Wayne State.

Last week ended with more good news. On June 6, the Wayne State University Department of Athletics, in conjunction with the Ernie Harwell Estate and the Ernie Harwell Foundation, announced the establishment of the Harwell Field Project. This project will build a baseball stadium in recognition of Ernie and Lula “Lulu” Harwell.  It will provide grandstands, a press box, a team clubhouse, and a foyer to recognize the achievements and contributions of the Harwells. And, of course, this project will benefit our Warrior baseball team, as well as the surrounding community and thousands of kids who love baseball. 

It’s fun to report good news, and I’m confident the best is yet to come.

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