President Wilson in the news

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Wayne State to observe Election Day as a holiday

The day of the next general election will be an official holiday at Wayne State University. “I’m very pleased to announce that this year, Wayne State University has officially declared Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, a university holiday,” said Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson on Thursday. “This means there will be no classes, and the university will be closed, with the exception of essential personnel who must report to work. This holiday will afford faculty, staff and students the liberty to put their civic duty first.” The Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne Law also is now home to the first-ever polling location on campus. Keith was a longtime federal judge who died last year at 96 and was known as a champion of civil and voting rights. The WSU Student Senate took action on a new polling site after students said the off-campus location was a barrier to voting in 2016.
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Wayne State University unveils on-campus polling location in time for March primary

Wayne State University has established a polling location to serve Detroit's Precinct 149, a little over a month before the presidential primary election March 10. All voters of Precinct 149 will now cast ballots at the university's polling location inside the Wayne State Law School, 471 West Palmer. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson joined university officials and Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey for the announcement Wednesday afternoon at the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights. In November, Wayne State University was recognized for student voting engagement, with a student rate of over 50 percent, earning the university a platinum seal — one of 61 institutions in the country to do so. Student voting at Wayne State increased to 53 percent in 2018 following the midterm elections, up from 27 percent in 2013, while the national average institutional voting rate was 39 percent in 2018, according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement. The university Board of Governors also declared Election Day in November a campus holiday, canceling classes and making it easier for students, staff, and faculty to hit the polls. “The university has gone to considerable measures to ensure every student’s voice is heard,” Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson said. “This student-led initiative celebrates the life and legacy of Judge Damon Keith by making voting and civic engagement more accessible to campus residents. I believe (Keith) would be delighted with today’s announcement.”
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Crain’s Newsmaker: M. Roy Wilson, President, Wayne State University

M. Roy Wilson, M.D., is entering his seventh year as president of Wayne State University with a portfolio of accomplishments. Wilson, an ophthalmologist and researcher who has published papers on glaucoma and blindness in populations from the Caribbean to West Africa, previously has served as deputy director for strategic scientific planning and program coordination at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of National Institutes of Health. He also was dean of  the medical school at Creighton University in Omaha. Of all his achievements during his tenure, Wilson has said he is most proud of how Wayne State has increased graduation rates. Since he took office, Wayne State has nearly doubled its graduation rate to 47 percent from 26 percent. Wilson has said the school has more work to do to reach its goal of a 50 percent graduation rate before 2021. In 2020, Wayne State expects to complete several construction projects , including the STEM Innovation Learning Center, which will bring all of WSU’s science, technology, engineering and math programs into one building. He also has pointed to moving the historic McKenzie house on Cass Avenue to the other side of the block on 2nd Avenue, allowing the expansion of the Hilberry Theater, which will allow the complex to house a new jazz center. Last year, Wayne State established a partnership with the Detroit Pistons that will allow for the construction of a new $25 million arena for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. The arena also will serve as the home of the Piston’s G League team. Wilson also oversaw a turnaround of the Wayne State University School of Medicine.
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M. Roy Wilson: Michigan needs more college graduates

Investing in higher education meets the needs of employers for growth and positions students for successful and rewarding lives. But Wayne State University is Michigan's only public, urban research university not to have its state funding level restored to 2011 levels and is still down $1.8 million, said WSU President M. Roy Wilson, M.D. Adjusted for inflation, WSU is down $1 billion a year in funding based on fiscal year 2002, he said. "Our students" and the university are negatively affected, said Wilson. "The reality is, if we are going to meet the needs of employers, we need more four-year college graduates." Wilson said he is optimistic that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer understands the importance of long-term support of higher education. She announced a statewide goal of 60 percent of Michiganders earning a postsecondary degree or certificate by 2030. Wilson said students have stepped up in various ways to help inner-city residents. For example, medical students volunteer at Street Medicine Detroit, a free health clinic for the city's homeless. This year Wayne State expects to complete several construction projects, including the STEM Innovation Learning Center, which will bring all of WSU's science, technology, engineering and math programs into one building. "The state will benefit as these students graduate and meet future talent demands that will keep Michigan competitive and growing," Wilson said. "The project also offers opportunities to expose K-12 students from the Detroit area to hands-on learning situations that can ignite their interest in science and technology and inspire them to pursue STEM-related careers." Since Wilson took office in 2013, Wayne State has nearly doubled its graduation rate to 47 percent from 26 percent. The achievement was recognized in 2018 by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities' prestigious Degree Completion Award. "I am extremely proud of this accomplishment ... (but) we are not resting on our laurels. We are working hard to further reduce educational disparities and improve graduation rates. I am confident that we will reach a 50 percent graduation rate before 2021."
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Chamber Honors Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson with “Excellence In Education Leadership Award”

The Detroit Regional Chamber founded the “Excellence in Education Leadership Award” to recognize educators who demonstrate outstanding public service and leadership on behalf of the region. The award was inspired by the legacy of the outgoing University of Michigan-Dearborn Chancellor, Daniel Little, who was the first recipient in 2018. This year, the Chamber’s Greg Handel, vice president of Education and Talent Initiatives will award Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson as the second inaugural recipient of the Excellence in Education Leadership Award. Wilson has demonstrated exceptional commitment to better serving his students – Detroit’s future talent base – and fulfilling the important role his institution has in catalyzing regional economic development. Under his leadership, Wayne State has garnered national attention for their new approaches that has lifted the university up as one of the most innovative universities in the country.
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Wayne State announces free tuition for Detroit students, residents

Michigan Gov. Whitmer and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan joined Wayne State University officials to announce a free tuition program for students at Detroit high schools. The program is being called the "Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge." The free tuition is for Detroit students who live in the city and attend public schools, charter schools or private schools. "This is a tremendous day for Wayne State and for Detroit students," said WSU President M. Roy Wilson. "This initiative aligns perfectly with many of our institutional values. Opportunity, accessibility and affordability are all pillars of the high quality education we provide, and the Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge delivers on all those values. With the resources and opportunities on campus and the exciting resurgence in Detroit, it's never been a better time to be a Warrior."
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Wayne State giving free college tuition to all Detroit high school grads, residents

Michigan Gov. Whitmer and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan joined Wayne State University officials to announce a free tuition program for students at Detroit high schools. The program is being called the "Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge." The free tuition is for Detroit students who live in the city and attend public schools, charter schools or private schools. "This is a tremendous day for Wayne State and for Detroit students," said WSU President M. Roy Wilson. "This initiative aligns perfectly with many of our institutional values. Opportunity, accessibility and affordability are all pillars of the high quality education we provide, and the Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge delivers on all those values. With the resources and opportunities on campus and the exciting resurgence in Detroit, it's never been a better time to be a Warrior."
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Wayne State to give free tuition to city of Detroit high school graduates

Wayne State University will give free tuition to all city of Detroit students who graduate from high school, starting with this year's graduating class. The free tuition is good for those attending traditional public schools, charter schools or private schools and making any amount of money. The only restriction: The student must live in the city of Detroit. The scholarship, called the Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge, was announced Wednesday morning by Wayne State President Roy Wilson at an event attended by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti. "This initiative aligns perfectly with many of our institutional values," Wilson said in a news release. "Opportunity, accessibility and affordability are all pillars of the high quality education we provide, and the Heart of Detroit scholarship delivers on all those values." Dawn Medley, Wayne State’s associate vice president for enrollment management, said in an exclusive interview with the Free Press: “We didn't want to have a lot of reasons why people wouldn't qualify. We thought we could go bold. It's really as close to free college as we can get in terms of tuition." Wayne State officials expect to see an uptick in students coming to their school. "What happens if we are overrun with students?" Medley said. "That would be amazing." She said Wayne State will be able to accommodate any additional students. She said the university is also prepared to help students, recognizing that many students, especially first-generation students, have challenges to succeed at college beyond just cost of attendance. "We want to be stretched in supporting students," Medley said. "We will be ready to take on the challenge."
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WSU Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies kicks off National Hispanic Heritage Month

As a kickoff to National Hispanic Heritage Month, Wayne State University's Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS) recently hosted its 48th Anniversary & Celebration. The capacity crowd at El Kiosko Banquet Hall was on hand to recognize accomplished students and community leaders. Chuck Stokes, WXYZ editorial and public affairs director, served as emcee. Jorge Chinea, director of CLLAS, put together the special event.
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U.S. Government targets foreign researchers

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) have accused 180 foreign scientists of undisclosed financial conflicts of interest and other wrongdoing and have referred at least 18 of them to federal investigators for possible debarment, raising concerns about disruption of international medical research collaborations. Most cases involved Chinese researchers, but concerns also exist about scientists from other countries, such as Russia, Iran and Turkey. “I was surprised by the extent of the allegations”, said M. Roy Wilson (Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA), co-chair of a NIH working group on foreign influences on research integrity. “Scientific collaboration is a keystone of biomedical research and helps tremendously; I worry about an overreaction that could stifle continued progress.” “Universities will likely begin auditing or spot-checking scientists' disclosures, but it is important that be done across the board without targeting researchers from any particular country,” Wilson said.
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Wayne State University president Road Warrior bike tour stops in Ludington

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson will be visiting Ludington during his third annual Road Warrior bicycle tour that includes stops at four different cities in five days. Seven riders will be participating in the entire tour, including Wilson. Others will do segments, like one day, Wilson said. “This year we wanted to focus on and visit with alumni, donors and friends of the university,” said Wilson. Rob MacGregor, senior director of philanthropy at Wayne State Law School, said his daughter is riding a 100-mile segment. (Full access to article requires subscription)
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Wayne State president to ride through Midland, host reception

If there are any Wayne State University alumni or supporters in the area, July 24 will be your chance to reconnect and celebrate during a reception at Midland Center for the Arts, as part of the third annual Road Warrior bike tour. The tour begins Monday, July 22, and will end when the group of about seven cyclists makes their way back to the WSU campus during the afternoon of Friday, July 26. By the end of the tour, the cyclists will have biked 450 miles and visited four communities other than Detroit – Traverse City, Ludington, Midland and Rochester. Among the group will be WSU President M. Roy Wilson who is making the trip for the third year. Wilson, an avid cyclist, said the point of the trip is to get out into the community, gain new insights and network with the university’s supporters. “This idea came to me after the 2016 election because it’s apparent we’re becoming more polarized and I thought that there were segments of the community that we just weren’t reaching,” he said. “And since we’re a state institution we serve the state, we should be serving all communities, including rural communities and other communities that we don’t typically reach out to on a routine basis.” He said biking the state allows him to gain new perspectives and a better understanding of the people and their concerns. Regarding WSU, he said the main concerns he hears is surprisingly not tuition, but the value of attending a university. “With all the talk about tuition and the emphasis on trying to keep tuition down, I thought that would be a more important topic, and it’s not to say it’s unimportant, but really people were concerned about value,” he said. “And they don’t mind paying the tuition if they think they’re going to get good value for their money and they think it’s going to make a difference in their lives or in the lives of their sons and daughters.” And while the previous two years of the bike tour have focused on community outreach, this year’s theme is centered around celebrations with donors, alumni and friends of the university, Wilson said. “We want to make more of a focus on our alumni and donors and hear what they’re thinking and what their priorities are, and what their ambitions are for how the university can best serve them,” he said. Having a significant population of alumni and supporters in the area, Midland made the list of this year’s cities to visit, Wilson said. He added that he hopes once it’s over that the people who participated feel a greater connection to WSU. “I want them to know that we care about them and I hope that by making an effort to reach out and see them that they realize that,” he said. “… To be able to share time and gain some perspective from people who we don’t typically connect with, I think is going to be really important.”
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Road Warrior Bike Tour begins July 22

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson is about to set out on another bike tour of Michigan, and this year he's casting a wider net. Wilson will take the third annual Road Warrior bike tour farther north this summer, biking to four cities in five days. Beginning Monday, July 22 cyclists will bike 450 miles by the time they're done Friday, July 26. By the end of the tour, the cyclists will have biked 450 miles and visited four communities. This year's Road Warrior bike tour will differ from the previous two in terms of theme and focus. Whereas the theme of the first two tours was community outreach and telling the Wayne State story, this year's tour will focus more on celebrations with donors, alumni and friends of the university. Wilson dropped by the Fox2 News studios Saturday morning to talk about his trip and mission. The schedule for the Road Warrior tour stops: July 22 at Chateau Chantal Winery in Traverse City; July 23 at Ludington Bay Brewing Co. in Ludington, 6-8 p.m.; July 24 at the Midland Center for the Arts and Dow Garden in Midland, 6-8 p.m.; July 25 at Rochester Mills Beer Co. in Rochester, 6-8 p.m.; July 26 at Tony V's Tavern in Detroit, 2 p.m.
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Students call him ‘Super Stanley’

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson went to Harvard Medical School with Samuel Stanley Jr. and stayed in touch over the years as part of the small group of university presidents who were also medical doctors. “I think it’s an absolutely outstanding pick,” Wilson said about MSU’s selection of Stanley. Wilson has the unique perspective of someone who knows both Stanley and Lou Anna Simon, the MSU president forced out because of the Nassar scandal. “I like Lou Anna, but in terms of personality, (Simon and Stanley) are very, very different," he said. “Sam is warmer. He’ll engage you in conversation, and Lou Anna is just not that way. It’s not that she’s dismissive but she’s more analytical.” Wilson said that Stanley’s demeanor has been shaped by being a physician and working with patients in vulnerable situations. “In general, physicians get into the profession because they want to help people, and they tend to be empathetic and compassionate,” he said. “Sam has those qualities, and that’s going to be helpful in going forward at MSU.” Stanley’s reputation as a good listener also will help, Wilson said. “He’s very smart, but he’s also very understated. He’s not going to overtalk you."
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'Consensus builder' Stanley faces task of healing MSU

Michigan State University's next president is a skilled physician, nationally renowned researcher and a uniter who can help the university emerge from the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal, former colleagues said Tuesday. Those who have worked with Samuel Stanley Jr. hailed the former Stony Brook University president's broad range of academic, administrative, medical and research experience and his compassionate demeanor. Stanley, 65, was named president Tuesday by the MSU Board of Trustees after a decade-long stint as president of Stony Brook, a 17,364-student university on suburban Long Island in New York state. Stanley’s upcoming tenure, which begins Aug. 1, means that Michigan’s Big Three universities will all be headed by medical doctors. Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson and University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel are also trained as physicians. Wilson was a 1980 classmate of Stanley’s at Harvard Medical School and often played basketball with him in the university’s Vanderbilt Hall. Wilson also recently worked with Stanley on two national panels. One was a 2018 NCAA symposium titled “An ounce of prevention may keep you out of court.” Wilson also co-chaired a National Institutes of Health committee in 2018 for the director on Foreign Influences on Biomedical Research, with Stanley as one of the members. The WSU president spoke of Stanley with high regard, describing him as “compassionate” and “down-to-earth.” “MSU made an outstanding choice,” he said. “He’s a very smart guy. More than that, he is really well-rounded. He is not just a scientist. He is really well-rounded in the humanities.” Wilson added he felt Stanley will be able to navigate the university community through the turbulence of the Nassar fallout. “He’s very approachable,” he said. “I think the victims of sexual assault will feel like they can approach him in a way that may have not been able to with some other people.”
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Combatting undue foreign influence at U.S. research institutions

Stronger security measures may protect intellectual property, but how high is the cost? Aggressive actions could discourage top talent from coming to the United States. Tighter controls could disrupt collaboration and the free flow of information. But the most commonly cited fear is racial profiling. In its March 2019 issue, Science published a letter from three organizations, including the Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America, expressing concerns about polices that “single out students and scholars of Chinese descent … for scapegoating, stereotyping, and racial profiling.” Chinese American scientists have been wrongfully accused of spying in the past, the letter notes. Even supporters of measures to protect U.S. research worry about unfairly targeting scientists of Asian descent. “As a black male, I’m very sensitive to racial profiling,” says M. Roy Wilson, M.D., M.S., president of Wayne State University and co-chair of the NIH advisory committee that considered foreign influences. “The vast majority of foreign investigators in this country are contributing to the advancement of science and doing good work. It just so happens that a large proportion of people in this group are of Chinese descent. And we should not overly stigmatize an entire group of people, most of whom are great collaborators, great postdocs, and have no connection whatsoever with anything that could be considered even inadvertent subverting of process and policy.” 
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'A giant in law, in civil rights, and in life,' Judge Damon Keith

The late federal Judge Damon J. Keith was laid to rest Monday in Detroit. The Motor City native, civil rights icon, and distinguished jurist passed away at age 96 on April 28. His life and legacy were celebrated during a funeral service at the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church on Detroit's west side. “Damon Keith was a giant in law, in civil rights, and in life," said Dr. M. Roy Wilson, President of Wayne State University, one of Keith's alma maters. A grandson of slaves., Keith died as a celebrated federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He was nominated for that position in 1977. Many of his milestone decisions were mentioned during his funeral service Monday, including those that put him at odds with people in power at the time. Keith fought racial discrimination in public housing, schools and police departments.