President Wilson in the news

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Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson to step down in 2023

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson announced Monday that he will step down from his role when his contract expires at the end of the next school year in July 2023. Paul W. Smith speaks to President Wilson about his accomplishments in student success, fundraising and diversity, and what might be next. “After next year, I will have served as dean of a medical school or chancellor or president of a university for 30 years – 10 of those years at Wayne State. That’s a long time,” said Wilson. “There are a number of things that I want to get completed before next year. A couple of them are really big projects, so stay tuned because I’m really looking forward to this next year.” Wilson spoke about his plans for a sabbatical and continued work with faculty and students. reflected on some of his notable accomplishments. “The high point was certainly the improvement in the graduation rates. When I first came, the graduate rate overall was 26% - about 7 or 8% for Black students. Now, it’s about 60% overall and 40%...it’s something I’m particularly proud of…” 
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Wayne State University president M. Roy Wilson to step down

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson said Monday he will be stepping down as leader of the Detroit institution in about a year. The nine-year president said that Wayne State is well-positioned to continue providing access to the public urban, research university and reach its goal of becoming the top research university for social mobility in the nation. Wilson became WSU’s 12th president in August 2013. He said he will be stepping down at the end of the 2022-23 academic year, completing a 10-year tenure at the helm of Michigan’s third largest public university. His contract expires July 31, 2023.  "Ten years is long enough to get most things done," Wilson said. "A year is still a long time. A year from now Wayne State will be in an even stronger position. I've got some big things in mind that I think we can accomplish in a year." Wilson said he will branch out beyond university administration and plans to "leverage my relationships at the national level." Wilson, an ophthalmologist, will take a one-year sabbatical during which he will leave Detroit to "retool in ophthalmology" before returning to Wayne State as a faculty member in 2024. "The impact of President Wilson's transformational leadership will be felt for years to come," said Board of Governors chair Mark Gaffney. "He has led our campus in putting students and their success above all else, furthering the university's role in providing life-changing opportunities for all students to earn a college degree. We are grateful for his years of service and commitment."
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Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson to step down

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson said Monday he will be stepping down as leader of the Detroit institution in about a year. The nine-year president said that Wayne State is well-positioned to continue providing access to the public urban, research university and reach its goal of becoming the top research university for social mobility in the nation. Wilson became WSU’s 12th president in August 2013. He said he will be stepping down at the end of the 2022-23 academic year, completing a 10-year tenure at the helm of Michigan’s third largest public university. His contract expires July 31, 2023.  "Ten years is long enough to get most things done," Wilson said. "A year is still a long time. A year from now Wayne State will be in an even stronger position. I've got some big things in mind that I think we can accomplish in a year." Wilson said he will branch out beyond university administration and plans to "leverage my relationships at the national level." Wilson, an ophthalmologist, will take a one-year sabbatical during which he will leave Detroit to "retool in ophthalmology" before returning to Wayne State as a faculty member in 2024. "The impact of President Wilson's transformational leadership will be felt for years to come," said Board of Governors chair Mark Gaffney. "He has led our campus in putting students and their success above all else, furthering the university's role in providing life-changing opportunities for all students to earn a college degree. We are grateful for his years of service and commitment."
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Wayne State University President Wilson set to step down

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson said Monday he will be stepping down as leader of the Detroit institution in about a year. The nine-year president said that Wayne State is well-positioned to continue providing access to the public urban, research university and reach its goal of becoming the top research university for social mobility in the nation. Wilson became WSU’s 12th president in August 2013. He said he will be stepping down at the end of the 2022-23 academic year, completing a 10-year tenure at the helm of Michigan’s third largest public university. His contract expires July 31, 2023.  "Ten years is long enough to get most things done," Wilson said. "A year is still a long time. A year from now Wayne State will be in an even stronger position. I've got some big things in mind that I think we can accomplish in a year." Wilson said he will branch out beyond university administration and plans to "leverage my relationships at the national level." Wilson, an ophthalmologist, will take a one-year sabbatical during which he will leave Detroit to "retool in ophthalmology" before returning to Wayne State as a faculty member in 2024. "The impact of President Wilson's transformational leadership will be felt for years to come," said Board of Governors chair Mark Gaffney. "He has led our campus in putting students and their success above all else, furthering the university's role in providing life-changing opportunities for all students to earn a college degree. We are grateful for his years of service and commitment."
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2022 Michiganians of the Year: M. Roy Wilson improved graduation rates at Wayne State

By Kim Kozlowski   Wayne State University was getting national attention for having one of the worst graduation rates, especially among African American students, in 2013 when President M. Roy Wilson arrived. In the years before his tenure, WSU’s six-year graduation rate hovered in the 30% range and sunk as low as 26% in 2011. Graduation rates for Black students were markedly worse. Graduation rates were slowly improving when Wilson arrived. The year before, in 2012-13, the six-year graduation rate for all students overall was 27.6%, more than three times the 9.2% of African American students who were graduating in six years. Wayne State has since increased its overall six-year and African American graduation rate to 55.8% and 34.6%, respectively, in 2021. The APLU bestowed the 2018 Degree Completion Award on Wayne State for using innovative ways to help students complete degrees and having the most improved college graduation in the nation. The disparity among African American students leaving WSU without a degree was especially concerning, Wilson says, because beyond the impact on the student it also “has intergeneration effects if you can’t break the cycle.” “If you don’t have a diverse workforce and have one segment of society that is making it and getting the good jobs…you not only widen the income gap between minorities and non-minorities, you also widen other gaps,” Wilson said, pointing to quality of life, life expectancy and health. “It’s not just an issue of lifetime income, it’s an issue of what kind of life you are going to lead.” Before he arrived, WSU committed to investing $10 million over five years to retain students. Wilson said the university also had to change its culture. Wilson says the next step is to close the graduation gap between white students and students of color. “You bring in kids, schools are obligated to graduate them,” he said. “They incur debt and then they don’t graduate. You are doing a disservice to the students, and a disservice to society. It’s an issue of justice.”   
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In memoir, Wayne State president hopes to inspire others to persevere

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson believes many people make assumptions about his background because of his success. The Harvard-trained ophthalmologist is nearing a decade at the helm of the Detroit college after a distinguished career in key higher education and medical leadership roles. But in his memoir published Wednesday, Wilson, 68, shatters any preconceived notions of a privileged upbringing. The book includes intimate details about his childhood, years of which were spent in Japan. The son of a Japanese mother and African American father, he explains that his father was an alcoholic who served in the Navy and Air Force and was often away from home; his mother, he wrote, was a compulsive gambler who left he and his sister, Dianna, on their own sometimes months at a time. “It was a lot, growing up by ourselves,” Wilson told The Detroit News. “Some of the things are so unbelievable, that people are going to say, ‘No, that really didn’t happen.” The book chronicles how Wilson faced other setbacks, racist incidents and health issues, yet prevailed. He said he wrote the book to send a message that even when things are dark, there is a way. “I wanted to target students who have challenges in their life, to persevere, find a way, graduate, to get through it, whatever it is,” said Wilson. “That is really the theme of the book that even in the darkest of times, something good can come out of it.” That is how the book got its name, “The Plum Trees Blossom Even in Winter.”  
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Wayne State President reveals deeply personal experiences in new memoir

By Jake Neher  Wayne State University President Dr. M. Roy Wilson is turning inward with a new memoir that is both reflective and at times deeply revealing. “The Plum Tree Blossoms Even in Winter” looks back on Wilson’s troubled childhood starting in Japan. It then journeys through his accomplishments, setbacks, and terrifying medical troubles as an adult. The book will be released on May 4. President Wilson will host a book signing and meet-and-greet that day at the Wayne State University Barnes and Noble from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. “The book is about challenges and not giving up and even in the darkest of times that you can persevere,” said President Wilson. 
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More Wayne State University students are graduating in push to eliminate disparities

More Wayne State University students are graduating in push to eliminate disparities  By David Jesse  There are words to fairly describe Wayne State University's graduation rate eight years ago when M. Roy Wilson was interviewing for the school's presidency: awful, disgraceful, lousy and pathetic. "It was dismal," he said recently in an interview with the Free Press. "I had never seen graduation rates for any (college) that low." They had been dreadful for some time. Only about a a quarter of students graduated from Wayne State within six years in 2011, two years before Wilson's hiring. The rates actually were lower than that overall rate for subgroups of students. Just under 8% of Black students were graduating in six years; just under 17% of Hispanic/Latino students; just over 18% of first-generation students and right around 16% of low-income students, according to university statistics. "What I recall is that when I came here, there were a lot of excuses around our graduation rate," Wilson said. "I just didn't really want to hear excuses. Let's talk about how we are going to change it." In 2021, those numbers have all risen sharply, the results of a campaign to increase the graduation rates started under Wilson's predecessor, Allan Gilmour, and ramped up under Wilson. The overall six-year graduation rate is up to just under 56%; the Black student graduation rate is about 35%; the Hispanic/Latino rate is just over 38%; the first-generation rate is almost 45% and the low-income rate is just over 47%. 
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Wayne State to require vaccinations for fall return to campus

Wayne State University will require everyone on campus to be vaccinated against COVID-19 this fall and must provide proof by Aug. 30 to be allowed on campus, President M. Roy Wilson announced Tuesday. The university will also require masks indoors at least through Sept. 15 amid a surge of cases linked to the delta variant and lagging vaccination rates. "As we have from the beginning of the pandemic, we are today revising our campus response to respond to emerging evidence and local data," Wilson wrote to the campus community. "To best protect the health and safety of our campus community, Wayne State will require all students, faculty and staff who plan to be on campus during the fall semester to receive their COVID-19 vaccination." Wilson noted that COVID-19 cases are increasing across the nation and positivity rates locally have grown recently from 2.4 to 3.3 percent. "The latest data regarding the delta variant is concerning," Wilson wrote. "This variant spreads more easily and may be transmitted by vaccinated individuals with rare breakthrough cases. Thankfully, the data also show that vaccines continue to be highly effective, particularly in protecting against serious illness, hospitalization and death. Full vaccination of our campus community will eventually eliminate the need for masks and allow a renewed sense of normalcy in our interactions," Wilson wrote.
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WSU to require COVID-19 vaccines for students living in dorms

Less than five weeks before students move back to Wayne State University, officials said Monday that residents of its dorms will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19. WSU President M. Roy Wilson made the announcement in an email that accompanied results from an online survey showing 86% of respondents reported being vaccinated. Those who responded included 9,106 people, a 29.5% response rate out of the 30,853 members of the campus community. There were 23,052 students enrolled during winter semester. "We are mindful of the particular risks of congregate living," Wilson wrote. "Therefore, we are implementing a targeted mandate for students living in university housing for the fall 2021 semester ... This targeted mandate — which is similar to those implemented by several Michigan universities — will help protect those who live in close proximity to each other. It will also help us prevent spread of the virus on our campus while allowing students to interact and engage face to face — a vital part of the college experience," Wilson added. Wilson wrote Monday that more information, including how to provide proof of vaccination, would be forthcoming "in the near future." WSU has told students they would make a decision by July about whether a vaccine would be required for students living in the dorms based on case trends, said Laurie Lauzon Clabo, WSU's campus chief health and wellness officer. "We felt we couldn't wait any longer," said Clabo, who is also dean of the College of Nursing. "The timing is always tough. We believe we acted responsibility." WSU is following COVID case numbers in the city and state, and two surveys were done to assess the percentage of those vaccinated. While the number of people in the WSU community who have gotten the vaccine is good, Clabo said, the lowest level of uptake is among undergraduate students. Another survey of those living in WSU residence halls showed "overwhelming" support for a mandate, Clabo added. WSU, she said, will work with students if they are not fully vaccinated by move-in, which begins Aug. 26.
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U.S. Department of Commerce invests $754,840 in Cares Act Recovery Assistance to support medical technology innovators in southeast Michigan

Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded a $754,840 CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to TechTown Detroit to support innovation and entrepreneurship in the region’s medical and manufacturing sectors. This EDA grant, to be matched with $249,900 in local investment, is expected to generate $5.5 million in private investment. “TechTown has been helping to build a more resilient and inclusive economy by leveraging this region’s unique assets for more than 17 years, and now we have a partner at the highest level to help us expand our impact,” said Ned Staebler, president and CEO of TechTown Detroit. “With this grant from the Economic Development Administration, we’ll engage 25 regional stakeholders including healthcare systems, local government entities, private investors, universities and economic development organizations to advance regional innovation in medical technology, creating good-paying jobs and helping SE Michigan build back better.” “This critical support from the Economic Development Administration signals a commitment at the highest level to Detroit’s innovation ecosystem,” said Wayne State University President and TechTown Chair M. Roy Wilson. “With it, TechTown will continue to be a leader in driving the region’s economic recovery through the COVID-19 crisis via its MedHealth cluster. Since 2015, MedHealth has played a critical role in convening, educating and connecting medical innovation stakeholders in the Detroit region, and we are thrilled to work with the EDA to expand programs that will further catalyze entrepreneurship and business growth in the region’s healthcare sector.”  
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Wayne State to Anchor Detroit’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative in Corktown

Wayne State University will be working with the city of Detroit to provide economic development initiatives to the greater Corktown neighborhood as the city deploys the $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Grant it received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development deployment. “Wayne State University is pleased to serve as an anchor institution for the city’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative for the transformation of Clement Kern Gardens and the Greater Corktown Neighborhood,” says M. Roy Wilson, president of WSU. “Wayne State has been a critical partner in the planning process and is excited to continue working with the city during implementation of the grant by providing evaluation services and committing $3.7 million of leverage to support neighborhood residents.”
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Mich. House pushes plan to slash UM, Wayne State funding

Michigan's 15 public universities are bracing for a potential change that would severely alter how state aid is divided up among them, with most schools expected to see increases at the expense of two of the state's top research institutions. The Michigan House of Representatives this month passed controversial legislation that would tie the annual appropriation for the state's public universities to the number of full-time Michigan students enrolled. The House plan does not include an increase in funding for higher education — unlike the 2% increase passed by the Senate and recommended by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Instead, it would keep the appropriation around $1.3 billion but shuffle how much each college gets while phasing the changes in over three years. Under the House plan, UM's Ann Arbor campus stands to lose the most: $39.5 million, or 12% of its state funding, in the first year and nearly $125 million over the first three years. Wayne State would lose $8.2 million, or 4% of its state aid, in the first year and nearly $29 million in three years. Both universities, respectively, educate a larger percentage of non-resident students. Michigan would become the only state in the nation to use resident enrollment as the sole basis for state funding, said Britany Affolter-Caine, executive director of the University Research Corridor, an alliance of UM, WSU and MSU that promotes research as a driver of the state's economy. Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson said a cut of $28.6 million over three years would dramatically impact tuition and services at the urban research institution where 2,135 of the 24,155 enrolled students are not from Michigan. The proposed funding change is a similar mechanism that is used to fund K-12 education in Michigan, which pays a set amount per student to schools each year, but it costs more to educate graduate and professional students, Wilson said. Some universities can put 300 undergraduate students into one lecture hall whereas a medical school class may not have that many. "There is a difference of scale here," Wilson said. "There needs to be a more sophisticated mechanism that better recognizes the unique missions of the 15 public universities in Michigan." Wilson added there is an underappreciation of research universities' contributions to the state's economy and residents' health and wellbeing. "Michigan has not historically appreciated the value of research," Wilson said. "There is a huge (investment) return on research. ... Research has a multiplier effect. The kind of technologies that come out of research universities: the life-saving discoveries and the improved quality of life is also really important. It's not just the financial benefit."