MSU’s Presidential Search Continues Amidst Student Concerns and Transparency Issues

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Camila Bello 

Sept. 19, 2023 

Timeline of presidents at MSU.

Camila Bello

John Engler (2018–2019, Interim President); Satish Udpa (2019, Acting President); Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. (2019-2022, President Emeritus); Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. (2022, Interim President).

Michigan State University has experienced a series of four presidents in charge since 2018. Currently, Teresa K. Woodruff holds the position of acting interim president following the resignation of former President Samuel L. Stanley in 2022. 

Woodruff made it clear in a campus-wide email on Aug. 20, that she has no intention of pursuing the full-time presidency but “will support the individual selected for this role as they assume the helm.” 

Woodruff’s office declined an interview. 

“I don’t understand why it is taking so long to choose a new president, we need it,” said Kyrie Huerta, a junior majoring in economics at MSU. “After the shooting back in February, I honestly expected we would be having an official president by now.”  

According to Dan Olsen, deputy spokesperson with University Communications, the search firm Isaacson, Miller has been leading the search for MSU’s 22nd president. 

According to the firm’s website, “Isaacson, Miller is a mission-driven retained executive search firm. For over 40 years, we have partnered with clients to solve their most demanding leadership challenges and build diverse teams to shape the future.” 

The open search is being led by John Isaacson, chair and founder; with the help of Joanna Cook, managing associate; and Debbie Scheibler, senior associate. 

Also, Olsen stated that a presidential search committee was formed in order to find a qualified person who matches the presidential prospectus. The statement was published at MSU Today on April 6. 

“As an MSU alum and executive director of the Michigan Bean Commission, Cramer brings with him a wealth of experience, including more than four decades in farming and agriculture,” said Denno and Scott. 

It was also mentioned the update President Woodruff provided indicating she is not going to pursue a full-time presidency. 

After six months of recruiting members for the board, “barring any unforeseen circumstances, the committee does not plan on looking for additional members,” said Mark Bullion. Bullion is the media and public information communications manager at the MSU’s Communications office. 

“The presidential search committee is meant to represent the full spectrum of our Spartan family, from faculty and staff to students and alums to university and community leaders. Among the 29 committee members, each brings their own unique background and experiences,” he said. 

Only two members of the presidential search committee are students. Emily Hoyumpa, president of ASMSU, and Hannah Jeffery, president of the Council of Graduate Students. 

Hoyumpa declined an interview. She expressed that she signed a non-disclosure agreement in order to join the committee. 

Jeffery did agree to an interview. 

“I’ve learned my lesson,” Jeffery said. 

Days before, an interview with Jeffery was published by the State News. Jeffery was given a warning by the presidential search committee on Friday. 

In the interview, Jeffery expressed her concerns about the lack of involvement of students in the presidential search. She is concerned by the fact that there are multiple businesspeople on the committee, and perhaps they are taking more into consideration on the business side rather than the students’ interests. 

Due to this, Jeffery declined to answer more questions regarding the presidential search. 

“I shouldn’t have spoken about it in the first place, and I apologize for ever doing so,” she said. 

According to Jeffery, Trustee Dennis Denno is the only person allowed to talk to the press in regard to the presidential search. 

Denno did not respond to an interview request. 

Furthermore, due to the hiring of the Isaacson, Miller Firm, legal documents such as budgets, meetings, and expenses are not available to the public. 

“How is our community going to move forward if there’s no transparency from our representatives?” said Ximena Flores. Flores is a student at the Eli Broad College of Business. 

She said, “Like every other corrupt government, ours is no different. President Stanley resigned due to this I believe. We can now see it with Mel Tucker. And it has been seen with many other ex-representatives in the past.” 

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