Mr. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State, will step down in 2023
Wayne State University President Roy Wilson will leave the University of Detroit when his contract expires at the end of next school year, he announced Monday.
Wilson led the school for nine years. He told the campus community that he has no plans to seek a new contract when his current contract expires on July 31, 2023.
“I have thought deeply about this decision and have had many conversations with my family, friends and colleagues,” he wrote. “I believe the time is right for a leadership transition. On a personal level, by the end of my current contract, I will have been college dean or chancellor or university president for 30 years. And although my energy and my passion for leadership studies is stronger than ever, I realize that 10 of those years will have been at Wayne State, and that seems like an optimal amount of time – long enough to achieve most goals and short enough not to. not tempt complacency – to serve as a university president.
He said he has no plans to retire and will pursue other “chapters” in his life.
“After leading several institutions, I’ve come to realize that a leader is most effective when they find their voice,” he said. “For this reason, nine years ago I sought to lead a university with institutional attributes – public, urban, diverse, top-notch research, and inextricably linked to its community – closely aligned with my personal values. campus and explored the surrounding community that Wayne State was such a university.Wayne State gave me my voice, and I am deeply grateful.
In an interview with the Free Press after the announcement, he said he was at a natural stopping point.
“Ten years is long enough to do most things,” he said. “I feel like most of my goals have been achieved.”
This does not mean that he intends to stay on the coast next year.
“A year is still a long time,” he said. “A year from now, Wayne State will be in an even stronger position. I have big things in mind that I think I can accomplish in a year.”
Details of the search for a replacement have not been announced.
“The impact of President Wilson’s transformative leadership will be felt for years to come,” Board of Governors Chairman Mark Gaffney said in a press release. “He led our campus in putting students and their success above all else, strengthening the role of the university in providing life-changing opportunities for all students to earn a college degree. We are grateful for his years of service and commitment.
Wilson came to Wayne State in the summer of 2013 to succeed Allan Gilmour, who had served as interim president and then permanent president after a long and distinguished career in business. Gilmour had put out several fires at the school and stabilized it. Board members said Wilson’s job upon arrival was to develop the school.
Wilson had served as associate director for strategic scientific planning and program coordination at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities before starting at Wayne State. He has also held leadership positions at several universities and medical schools during his career.
He is an ophthalmologist. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Allegheny College, a master’s degree in epidemiology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an MD from Harvard Medical School. He has been a teacher at several schools and has been named America’s Best Doctor more than a dozen times.
He told the Free Press that he intended to take a sabbatical year offered by Wayne State in his contract and retrain as an ophthalmologist, including doing clinical work. He also wants to work with younger faculty and students to help those interested in academic leadership navigate the academic ladder.
He intends to stay in Detroit. He currently lives on college property, so part of his plan is to buy a house in Detroit.
During his tenure at Wayne State, Wilson increased the graduation rate and narrowed the gap between the graduation rates of students of color and white students. He also developed the campus itself. During his tenure, the university built the WSU Fieldhouse in partnership with the Detroit Pistons, the state-of-the-art STEM Learning and Innovation Center, the Mike Ilitch School of Business, completed major renovations of the student center building, added on-campus housing, began renovations to State Hall and the soon-to-be-completed Hilberry Gateway Performance Arts Complex.
“Everything is on a high note,” he said, highlighting those accomplishments, including the ability to use the pandemic to ensure State Hall classrooms to be renovated support blended learning.
He also said the athletic facility upgrade sets up Wayne State well for the future.
“If we want to, we’re not limited by our facilities to go to Division One,” he said. “It’s a conversation that still needs to happen, but we’re not limited.”
He also went through a period of controversy in 2018 and 2019 when the board split in the middle of his performance. Board members attempted to fire Wilson and have him resign. The infighting included several board members suing fellow board members for alleged violations of the open meeting law. Several of the anti-Wilson board members lost re-election to the board, and Wilson remained.