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Michigan State University Provost Teresa Woodruff named interim president

Teresa Woodruff
Michigan State University Provost Teresa Woodruff will become the school’s interim president beginning on Friday as the school searches for a permanent president following years of tumult. (Courtesy of Michigan State University)
  • MSU Provost Teresa Woodruff will become the university’s interim president beginning Friday
  • Her promotion follows the announced resignation earlier in October by current President Samuel Stanley Jr. 
  • Faculty, staff and student groups fought for her appointment. A national search for a permanent president is expected to begin soon.

Michigan State University named Provost Teresa Woodruff as interim president on Monday during a brief special meeting of its Board of Trustees.

Woodruff is scheduled to assume the post on Friday, following the planned departure of Samuel Stanley Jr., who announced Oct. 13 he would resign as president, citing what he portrayed as meddling by some trustees in his handling of day-to-day presidential duties. 

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Woodruff was involved in one of the biggest points of dispute between Stanley and the board — the forced departure this past summer of the dean of the business school. Indeed, Woodruff and Stanley were aligned in their defense of Sanjay Gupta’s removal, which upset some trustees. 

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But following Stanley’s announced resignation, a coalition of faculty, staff and student leaders threw its support behind promoting Woodruff to interim president, perhaps forcing the divided board’s hand. 

Citing the months and indeed years of in-fighting at MSU over the university’s mishandling of sexual misconduct complaints and other matters, the coalition said it felt Woodruff “will ease those tensions” if she were to be named interim president. 

Stanley is the third MSU president since 2018 to be forced out in the past five years because of Title IX-related sexual-misconduct and compliance issues relating to the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal. 

The board is soon expected to begin to look nationally for a permanent president. Board Chair Dianne Byrum said at Monday’s meeting, which lasted about 10 minutes, that the process to choose the next president would involve a “comprehensive, robust search.”  

Woodruff came to MSU in 2020 after serving as dean and associate provost for graduate education at Northwestern University. Woodruff, a biologist who specializes in reproductive science, also serves as a professor in MSU’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology and the Department of Biomedical Engineering. 

Woodruff was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mentoring by then-President Obama in 2011.

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