Wayne State University — President

Wayne State University (WSU), a premier public research university in the heart of Detroit, seeks a visionary, inclusive and inspirational leader to serve as its next president. Applications, inquiries and nominations are invited. 

Founded in 1868, Wayne State serves a diverse body of nearly 24,000 students through a broad array of approximately 350 academic programs. The university is the third largest among Michigan’s 15 public universities. As Detroit’s seventh-largest employer, Wayne State has 2,269 faculty members (1,448 full time), nearly 5,000 regular staff and more than 2,000 student employees. Approximately two-thirds of faculty and staff are represented by one of the 13 unions on campus. 

Wayne State attracts students from around the United States and beyond. The current student body includes foreign students from 80 different counties. The university’s global engagement effort has led to partnerships with institutions in the Middle East, Latin America, Korea, India and China. 

Wayne State serves a prominent role in Michigan’s higher education landscape. It holds the highest Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching designations in both research and community engagement. In particular, WSU is known for faculty research in chemistry, physics, biomedical and health sciences, automotive safety, alternative energy, and the nanosciences. Together, Wayne State, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University form the University Research Corridor, the only national innovation cluster comprised exclusively of public institutions. As Michigan’s most diverse public university, Wayne State stands out as an institution of access and opportunity for students from all backgrounds. Notably, 40% of the undergraduate population are first-generation college students. The U.S. News & World Report 2022 Best Colleges rankings identified Wayne State as the best in Michigan for social mobility. 

Wayne State’s 200-acre campus lies at the heart of Midtown, a cultural and historic district in Detroit. Today, Wayne State remains a steadfast partner in the city’s economic life. 

The university comprises the following 13 schools and colleges: College of Education; College of Engineering; College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts; Graduate School; Law School; College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Mike Ilitch School of Business; School of Information Sciences; Irvin D. Reid Honors College; School of Social Work; School of Medicine; College of Nursing; and Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. 

The president serves as the university’s chief executive officer, is chosen by the Board of Governors and reports to the board. In this position, the president provides leadership in support of the institution’s mission, which is to advance knowledge, prepare a diverse student body to thrive, and positively impact local and global communities. Wayne State’s next president should be a visible and engaged leader with a diverse set of skills. This individual must be able to work effectively with city, state and federal representatives, as well as internal and external constituents and stakeholders. The next president should work collaboratively to advance the institution’s new strategic plan, “Our Moment in Time.” The next president must also cultivate philanthropic support and build strategic partnerships that purposefully align resources with university goals and priorities. 

The president should have the skills — and, preferably, experience — to manage a highly complex, multi-site institution of Wayne State’s size; possess a deep understanding of a mission-focused urban university; and demonstrate facility in managing a budget of nearly $1 billion. Additionally, the president should be an experienced fundraiser and a highly visible, accessible leader, both on and off campus. The president must value transparency and consultation in decision-making, and demonstrate a steadfast commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

All applications, nominations and inquiries are invited. Applications should include, as separate documents, a CV or resume and a letter of interest addressing the themes in the leadership profile. 

WittKieffer is assisting Wayne State University in this search. For fullest consideration, candidate materials should be received by March 13, 2023. 

Application materials should be submitted through WittKieffer’s candidate portal.

Nominations and inquiries can be directed to: 

Zachary A. Smith, Ph.D., Jessica Herrington and Christine Pendleton, WayneStatePresident@wittkieffer.com. 

Wayne State University is an equal opportunity employer. No person will be discriminated against or harassed in employment because of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, familial status, marital status, arrest record, height, weight, sexual orientation, qualified Vietnam era veterans, qualified special disabled veterans, recently separated veterans and other protected veterans, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal or state law. 

Wayne State University requires all students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with limited exceptions. Learn more at wayne.edu/coronavirus. 

University policy requires certain persons who are offered employment to undergo a background check, including a criminal history check, before starting to work. If you are offered employment, the university will inform you if a background check is required. 

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