Michigan State University is preparing for a new era with academic leader, neuroscientist and concussion researcher Kevin Guskiewicz as its next president.
During a special virtual meeting, MSU’s divided Board of Trustees unanimously agreed Friday to hire Guskiewicz, 57, of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, as MSU’s 22nd president.
Guskiewicz will be MSU’s sixth president in as many years.
After years of instability in MSU leadership, trustees expressed optimism for the future under the upcoming tenure of Guskiewicz, who has served UNC-Chapel Hill for 28 years, including the last four as chancellor. He begins his tenure on March 4.
“This is a new chapter for Michigan State University,” said MSU Board of Trustees President Rema Vassar. “We have chosen the most qualified candidate to lead Michigan State University.”
“Dr. Guskiewicz doesn’t know it yet, but he has always been a Spartan spirit,” Vassar added. “He has consistently communicated values that he holds dear: fairness, integrity, honesty, transformative leadership, accountability and transparency.”
Vassar said Guskiewicz also demonstrated many qualities that the MSU community told the search committee it wanted in the university’s next president: someone who would advance MSU’s teaching, research and outreach mission; has a commitment to diversity; values shared governance, servant leadership, and a deep sense of community.
Guskiewicz, who attended the meeting virtually, said he has seen the transformative power of higher education in preparing the next generation of leaders to solve current and future challenges. He added that MSU is doing well and looks forward to working with the community to continue building the university through its numerous initiatives and diverse community.
“I look forward to upholding Michigan State University’s important role and fundamental responsibility as a global public research university focused on giving back to the residents of Michigan and the world,” Guskiewicz said.
“As MSU’s next president, I am committed to building on the university’s historic legacy of academic and research excellence through a culture of collaboration and servant leadership.”
Guskiewicz said he was especially inspired by MSU’s commitment to its students’ success.
“I often say my favorite place on a college campus is in the classroom with the students,” Guskiewicz said. “I have enormous respect for the outstanding faculty and staff who support them on their journey to reach their full potential.”
He said he also appreciates MSU’s history of research and innovation, and said he is proud to have made research contributions to concussion guidelines that influenced the NCAA and NFL.
“As chancellor, I have maintained my research portfolio to always remind myself that research and scholarship go hand in hand with cutting-edge teaching and learning,” Guskiewicz said.
He said he believed the humanities, arts and social sciences are “vital in helping us understand how people interact with the results of our research.”
He said he was aware of the challenges MSU has faced, but he can’t wait to get started at the university.
“I look forward to working with all members and partners of the university, the board of trustees… (and) I am committed to working alongside all of you,” Guskiewicz said.
His salary and contract were not immediately available.
Guskiewicz is originally from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, a city of 8,000 people outside of Pittsburgh. He began his career in 1995 at UNC-Chapel Hill as an assistant professor in the Department of Exercise and Sports Sciences, according to his Linkedin profile.
Since then, he has risen to numerous positions, including dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, co-director of the Matthew Gfeller Sports-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center, and director of the Center for the Study of Retired Athletes.
His career accelerated in 2011 until he was named MacArthur Fellow, a prestigious award also known as a “genius grant,” for his research on sports-related concussions, which has influenced the guidelines of the National Football League, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and the National Federation of Associations. of State Secondary Schools. In 2013, Time magazine named him a Game Changer, one of 18 “innovators and problem solvers inspiring change in America.”
Word spread that Guskiewicz would soon take the reins as president.
Emily Hoyumpa, president of Associated Students of MSU, said the university’s student government “is excited to welcome Dr. Guskiewicz to the Michigan State community and the Spartan family.”
“I am hopeful that Dr. Guskiewicz can lead Michigan State to new heights and I look forward to a close relationship between students and our new president,” Hoyumpa said in a statement. “I truly believe Dr. Guskiewicz will make the Spartans proud in his new role and I look forward to what’s to come in the future for Michigan State.”
John Preyer, president of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees, issued a statement thanking Guskiewicz for “his long and notable service to the university.”
“Our board has successfully collaborated with Chancellor Guskiewicz on a variety of important initiatives, including university budget reform, student advocacy, career services, free speech, academic freedom, and the new School of Leadership and Life Civic,” Preyer said.
Before the MSU board of trustees voted on hiring Guskiewicz, several members of the search committee explained why he became the top candidate.
Council member Dennis Denno, who chaired the presidential search committee, said Guskiewicz is an exceptional leader and cited several of his accomplishments while at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Trustee Brianna Scott, who co-chaired the search committee, said he is a committed and transparent leader and believes in working closely with the board. She added that he is a highly strategic leader and especially appreciated him for building an inclusive community.
“We all look forward to working with him,” Scott said. “We look forward to working to build a culture of collaboration.”
Guskiewicz is MSU’s sixth president since the scandal involving Larry Nassar, the former doctor now jailed for serial sexual assaults.
MSU launched a national search after President Samuel Stanley resigned in October 2022, saying that he had lost confidence in the Board of Trustees. Interim President Teresa Woodruff has been in office since November 2022 and has said she would not seek the president’s position permanently. Woodruff, who previously served as provost, has not yet said whether she will return to that position, to the MSU faculty or another option.
Guskiewicz became the only remaining candidate in MSU’s presidential search last month when the other finalist for the job, University of Texas at San Antonio President Taylor Eighmy, he retiredas reported by the MSU student newspaper, The State News.
In the six years since then, MSU has dealt with many high-profile issues, including the elimination of the men’s and women’s swim teams, allegations of sexual misconduct against former football coach Mel Tucker, who has since been fired, and allegations of an internal name leak. of the woman who accused him, which is now being investigated by an outside law firm.
The survivors continue Demand the release of thousands of documents. related to serial sex offender Larry Nassar, which MSU is still keeping secret under attorney-client privilege and MSU is preparing a commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting of february 13 which claimed the lives of three students and seriously injured five others.
During Guskiewicz’s tenure as chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill, he launched several initiatives, including Carolina Across 100, an effort to partner with communities in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties; the Convergent Sciences Institute, which puts UNC research into practice; and the Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward, which is exploring the university’s history with race and finding ways to confront the past.
He and his wife, Amy, have four children.