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Michigan State University names UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor as next president

Michigan State University names UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor as next president
Michigan State University names UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor as next president 02:00

Michigan State University named the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as it's next president Friday morning, ending a search that began last October after the previous president quit amid tension with the school's governing board.

Kevin Guskiewicz, who has served as chancellor at UNC-Chapel Hill for the past four years, was approved by the Board of Trustees in an unanimous vote Friday morning. He will become Michigan State's 22nd overall president and the fifth person to lead the university since former President Anna Lou Simon resigned in 2018 in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal.

The university has remained embroiled in controversy since the scandal. A Michigan State hearing officer determined in October that former football coach Mel Tucker, who was fired in September, sexually harassed and exploited rape survivor and activist Brenda Tracy.

Women who were assaulted by Nassar sued the university in July, accusing school officials of making "secret decisions" in refusing to release more than 6,000 documents from an investigation into how he was allowed to get away with his behavior.

Divisions within the Board of Trustees, which contributed to President Samuel Stanley Jr.'s resignation last October after less than three years in the position, have also not improved. An effort to oust board Chair Rema Vassar failed in October after another trustee accused her, among other things, of bullying colleagues.

Guskiewicz, a 28-year member of the UNC-Chapel Hill community who first joined as faculty and later served as dean of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences. A neuroscientist and concussion researcher, Guskiewicz was named the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Exercise and Sport Science at the university in 2009.

"I am aware that Michigan State University has faced more than its share of challenges in recent years," Guskiewicz told the board Friday after the vote.

"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. "I commit to working alongside all of you to identify what I like to call a true north."

As news of Guskiewicz's potential move leaked last month, the chair of the UNC-Chapel Hill's Faculty Senate wrote that she and her colleagues "fervently hope" he'd stay.

Guskiewicz oversaw a turbulent period at UNC-Chapel Hill marked by a pandemic that pushed higher education toward remote learning, a so-called racial reckoning highlighting campus ties to white supremacy, and a high-profile tenure fight culminating in a Pulitzer Prize winner's departure.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, blamed "meddling from legislative appointees" for driving away talent from the chancellor's office in a post Thursday on X, formerly known as Twitter. "Hard right appointees" from the Republican-led legislature are damaging the university's reputation, he said.

Guskiewicz will take over for Interim President Teresa Woodruff on March 4.

Michigan State men's basketball coach Tom Izzo was on the search committee. He said Guskiewicz is a "tremendous choice" with a "shared goal of making our university the best in the world."

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