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Michigan State University names former UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz as president

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Michigan State University names former UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz as president

Dec 08, 2023 | 10:34 am ET
By Kyle Davidson
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Michigan State University names former UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz as president
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MSU President-elect Kevin Guskiewicz | Screenshot

In a meeting on Friday morning, the Michigan State University Board of Trustees named University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz as its new president, effective March 4, 2024. 

The eight member board approved the decision unanimously with Guskiewicz also being appointed as a professor in the university’s Department of Kinesiology with tenure. 

Guskiewicz, whose candidacy was first reported by The State News last month, will be the university’s sixth president in the last six years. 

Interim President Teresa Woodruff announced in August she would not apply to be the University’s permanent president, saying she would remain in the position until a new president is selected.

Guskiewicz was among two candidates whose name was leaked as a finalist in the presidential search process, with the other finalist, University of Texas at San Antonio President Taylor Eighmy, dropping out after the leak. 

An unnamed MSU Trustee told NC Newsline that some questioned whether Guskiewicz would have been the final choice in a traditional and confidential search. 

“These processes are supposed to be confidential,” the trustee told Newsline. “When you have a board that can’t keep these things confidential — and I would say some who don’t even want to keep them confidential — it really hobbles your ability to have a good candidate pool, to feel like you are getting the very best candidate.”

The board has also faced criticism for the lack of transparency in its presidential search.

In his remarks following the vote, Guskiewicz acknowledged the difficulties plaguing the University and promised to start his term with a listening and learning tour to hear from the community. 

Former MSU president Lou Anna Simon, who departed in 2018, was charged in the Attorney General’s investigation into whether university personnel was aware of the actions of disgraced doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted on seven counts of felony criminal sexual conduct. Interim President and former GOP Gov. John Engler resigned in 2019 following negative comments directed at Nassar survivors. 

Engler was succeeded by Acting President Udpa before Dr. Samuel Stanley was named president in May of 2019. Stanley later resigned citing a lack of confidence in the university’s board of trustees following conflict with the board regarding the investigation and ousting of Sanjay Gupta, dean of the Broad College of Business, following concerns of Gupta’s adherence to the University’s mandatory reporting policy.

The university’s board of trustees has also stirred controversy over the conduct of its members including actions related to the investigation of the Feb.13 mass shooting, and its inquiry following reports that a board member leaked the identity of sexual violence advocate Brenda Tracy following Tracy’s complaint to the university of sexual harassment by former MSU Head Football Coach Mel Tucker. 

“I am aware that Michigan State University has faced more than its share of challenges in recent years. Yet I see a strong university with an inspiring historical foundation that can reach new levels of excellence through its powerful commitment to student success, knowledge discovery and Land Grant service,” Guskiewicz said. 

“As we embark on this collective journey, I invite you to join me in charting the way forward by considering the following questions,” Guskiewicz said. “What will it take for Michigan State University to maintain its position among the top tier research institutions in the nation? How will contribute to the great scientific, medical and social challenges of our time? And How will MSU continue to prepare students for careers in jobs that don’t yet exist? The answers to these questions will help determine Michigan State University’s true north.”