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Michigan State University names president. What to know about Kevin Guskiewicz

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Michigan State University named University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz as its next president. Guskiewicz addressed the board in a virtual meeting Friday morning. (Screenshot)
  • Michigan State University will have a new president in March 2024
  • MSU Board of Trustees members voted unanimously to appoint the current University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill chancellor to the post
  • MSU faces several ongoing scandals now

Update: New MSU president: I’m ready to move beyond scandals, get along with board

Michigan State University named University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz as its next president. He has his work cut out for him.

Members of the MSU Board of Trustees put aside differences long enough to vote unanimously Friday to appoint Guskiewicz — pronounced Gus-kuh-witz — as president effective March 4. 

He signed a five-year contract with a base salary of $975,000 and $150,000 a year of deferred compensation, according to a contract provided by the university Friday evening. 

Guskiewicz also will live in university-owned housing, receive a onetime payment of $75,000 to cover moving expenses and “for the purposes of fostering relationships for the benefit of the University,” he receives annual memberships to the University Club and Country Club of Lansing.

The university's last full-time president, Samuel L. Stanley Jr., had a base salary of $960,000 before he resigned last year. 

The announcement comes at a pivotal time for the university, which faces a host of challenges, starting with a board that is often so deeply divided that Guskiewicz sought assurances he could do this job “without undue interference.”


Guskiewicz, 57, is a neuroscientist and concussion researcher and has been on faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill since 1995, according to his online bio. The university’s enrollment is about 32,000, compared to about 51,000 for MSU.

Prior to being chancellor, he held the interim role from February 2019 to December 2019 and was the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences from January 2016 to February 2019. 

He was the sole finalist for the MSU job after the University of Texas at San Antonio President Taylor Eighmy dropped out, according to the State News, the student newspaper.

Guskiewicz is the fifth president to succeed Lou Anna K. Simon, who resigned in 2018 amid an outcry over her and the university’s handling of the former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar, who was imprisoned for sexually abusing his patients.  

Guskiewicz succeeds interim President Teresa Woodruff who took the helm last year after Stanley  resigned citing a lack of confidence in the board. Woodruff announced in August she would not pursue the full-time president position. 


Board members praised Guskiewicz’ research, fundraising and leadership skills Friday. 

Board Chair Rema Vassar said the board is “deeply committed to working side by side with Dr. Guskiewicz in shared governance to propel MSU forward.” 

He said he would start his MSU presidency with a listening and learning tour.

This year alone, MSU remains under scrutiny for how it handled a sexual harassment investigation that led to the firing of football coach Mel Tucker and is in the process of upgrading security and responding to likely lawsuits following a Feb. 13 mass shooting that killed three students and injured five others. 

An independent firm is investigating the Board of Trustees’ actions after MSU trustee Brianna Scott sent a letter to fellow trustees in October calling on calling Vassar to resign.

Scott accused Vassar of making decisions without consulting other board members, bullying board members and administrators and interfering in how the board was portrayed in an after-action report about the school shooting in February. Vassar has denied these claims and has not resigned.

A separate firm is investigating an alleged leak to the media about sexual consent advocate Brenda Tracy’s name in relation to a sexual harassment investigation into Tucker


The university allowed Tucker to coach the first two games of the football season and only suspended and subsequently fired Tucker after a USA Today story outlined Tracy’s accusations, Tucker’s response and the findings of an independent investigator. 

Students and community members have criticized the university’s response and said the university has not learned from the Nassar scandal. 

The university continues to face calls to waive attorney-client privilege for 6,000 documents related to Nassar. 

At an October board meeting, Trustee Dennis Denno tried to initiate a process to release the documents but the board secretary said the motion was not made in line with board bylaws. 

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