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MSU students hope for stability, open communication with Guskiewicz administration

December 8, 2023
<p>Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz spoke in an interview in his South Building office on Monday, April 24, 2023. Photo taken by Kennedy Cox and provided by The Daily Tar Heel.</p>

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz spoke in an interview in his South Building office on Monday, April 24, 2023. Photo taken by Kennedy Cox and provided by The Daily Tar Heel.

With the appointment of Michigan State University president-elect Kevin Guskiewicz, who will be the university’s sixth president in six years, students said they hope for a new administration marked by stability and open communication with the student body. 

"I hope in the future we’re not in the news a lot," chemical engineering sophomore Ashwin Misra said.

Guskiewicz, a neuroscientist and administrator who's been the chancellor of UNC Chapel Hill since 2019, was unanimously appointed MSU's next president by the board at a special meeting Friday. His term will begin in March 2024. 

Misra said that in order to ensure the university stays out of the news for the "wrong reasons," Guskiewicz will need to establish a healthy relationship with the Board of Trustees, who Misra said has had a "toxic relationship" with the past two university presidents. The board has been accused of meddling in past presidencies by overstepping its boundaries in the day-to-day governance of the university. 

Misra also recommended that Guskiewicz solidify his stance on Title IX issues from the start of his tenure, given that three consecutive MSU presidents — beginning with former President Lou Anna Simon in 2018 — resigned amidst controversies relating to Title IX and Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct policy violations on campus.

Experience architecture senior Jason Fagan said the university is going through a leadership change and is "trying to figure out its identity," which is "not always an easy task."

Fagan said he hopes Guskiewicz's administration will "communicate openly about decisions and why they were made," as opposed to the previous administration which he said, at times, "looked bad from a PR standpoint." For example, he cited that former head football coach Mel Tucker's sexual harassment investigation was first made public by the media instead of MSU. 

Fagan also said he hopes Guskiewicz will understand the importance of MSU being one of the first land-grant universities in the country, and, because of this, should remain committed to improving local communities.

In an interview with The State News Friday, Guskiewicz said, "I see MSU as being a passionately public institution, one that, I like to say, will be the university for Michigan."

While serving as chancellor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Guskiewicz launched "The Tar Hell Bus Tour" campaign, which was intended to allow faculty and administrators at UNC to familiarize themselves with the communities students hail from. According to the campaign's website, 53 faculty members and 22 senior administrators took two buses — one to the west side of the state and the other to the east — making 21 stops in 19 counties. 

Guskiewicz said he envisions a similar statewide bus tour once he begins his tenure at MSU. 

"I’m a big believer in getting out and meeting people, meeting with the people there," Guskiewicz said.

Civil engineering junior Emily Schoepke said the presidency will be a "tough role to fill," and that it will be "tough to satisfy everybody," but she hopes Guskiewicz won’t shy away from having difficult conversations with students. 

"Don’t avoid those disagreements," Schoepke said. 

Guskiewicz said he plans to begin his tenure at MSU with a "listening and learning tour," in which he will meet with as many students, faculty and staff as possible. 

Schoepke said she appreciates this, especially given recent instances of racial harassment and some student groups advocating for more campus support for marginalized students. 

Kinesiology freshman Renaul Washington said he is glad to hear about Guskiewicz's promises to meet with students, as he has wanted the administration to be more interactive with students since he came to MSU in the fall. 

"I’ve never even seen the president," Washington said. 

Human biology and social relations and policy sophomore Caroline Beckrow said she first heard about Guskiewicz's appointment from Interim President Teresa Woodruff’s statement posted to her Instagram account. 

Beckrow said that while it "sounds like (Guskiewicz) has a credible background," she hoped for a president with a more "diverse background" because they might be able to bring a new perspective to university leadership and better advocate for minority students. 

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"Historically, we’ve had a lot of white, male presidents," Beckrow said. 

The board sent a video to students Friday morning titled "Meet the President-Elect." In it, Guskiewicz expressed his enthusiasm to begin his work at MSU. 

"I might make some mistakes along the way, but I promise to always learn from them, and from you," Guskiewicz said. "Together we will strengthen MSU, and foster a culture that values the voices of every member of our community."

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