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Michigan State University selects Teresa Woodruff as next provost

She departs after a coalition of graduate students petitioned for her removal

April 27, 2020
<p>Courtesy photo. </p>

Courtesy photo.

Michigan State President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. selected Teresa Woodruff to fill the role of provost and executive vice president of academic affairs. If confirmed by the Board of Trustees, she would begin August 1, according to a university press release.

Woodruff, an ovarian biology and reproductive science expert, was one of three finalists selected by a search committee for the position. The open search began in October after June Youatt resigned from the position.

Woodruff is leaving her post as dean of The Graduate School at Northwestern University, where, according to her CV, she has worked since 1995. She is not leaving on the best of terms.

In March, a letter was written to the university's president, provost and interim provost calling for her removal.

The letter — written by a coalition of underrepresented and underserved scholars at Northwestern — listed demands to increase support for marginalized communities at the university. One of the demands petitioned for was Teresa Woodruff's removal, gaining more than 350 signatures at the time of a forum held to discuss the letter.

Other demands, according to the letter, include providing financial and written support of identity-focused student groups, and subsidizing insurance coverage for children of graduate students.

At the forum, students accused Woodruff of engaging in harmful policymaking, according to The Daily Northwestern.

Woodruff received further backlash last month when the Northwestern University Graduate Workers called for the the university to protect workers amid the COVID-19 outbreak, according to The Daily Northwestern.

The statement was addressed to the university's president, Woodruff, the university's provost, the Board of Trustees, and other administrative officials at the university.

"TGS has perpetuated harm against underrepresented and underserved graduate workers on campus. We know that such patterns of harm will continue and worsen during this time of crisis unless the university takes action," according to the statement.

Woodruff will succeed interim provost Teresa Sullivan.

“I am confident Teresa shares our priorities for student success, campus safety and diversity, as well as our commitment to the pursuit of academic excellence and world-changing research,” Stanley said in an email to the university.

According to a university press release, she holds 14 patents and earned the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring in 2011.

Woodruff's introduction video to the MSU community can be viewed below.

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