Michigan State Appoints University of North Carolina Chancellor as New President

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz will step down Jan. 12 and his term as Michigan State University's president will begin March 4.
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Published on December 12, 2023
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  • Kevin Guskiewicz, a neuroscientist and concussion researcher, has led the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 2019.
  • Guskiewicz led UNC-Chapel Hill through the COVID-19 pandemic, a lawsuit resulting in the removal of affirmative action in college admissions, and the controversy surrounding the tenure of journalist and alum Nikole Hannah-Jones.
  • Former Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley resigned after controversy surrounding Title IX reporting.

Michigan State University (MSU) just found its new president — the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's (UNC-Chapel Hill) Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz.

MSU's board of trustees unanimously voted Dec. 8 to appoint Guskiewicz as the university's 22nd president. His term will start March 4.

"I am eagerly looking forward to working with all Spartans to build on this great university's strong historical foundation," Guskiewicz said in the announcement. "I intend to foster a culture of collaboration and, by working together, we can propel MSU to even greater eminence through its powerful commitment to student success, knowledge discovery and land-grant service."

Aside from leading UNC-Chapel Hill, Guskiewicz is a neuroscientist and concussion researcher. He earned a bachelor's degree in athletic training from West Chester University, a master's in exercise physiology/athletic training from the University of Pittsburgh, and a doctorate in sports medicine from the University of Virginia.

Guskiewicz led UNC-Chapel Hill as interim chancellor from February-December 2019 before being officially named chancellor. The previous chancellor, Carol Folt, now president of the University of Southern California, had resigned. Before becoming interim chancellor, he served as the College of Arts & Sciences dean.

"I've known Kevin for more than a decade; he's one of the most talented, visionary and ethical leaders in all of higher education," Folt said in the press release. "He leads with compassion, decisiveness and integrity; he builds consensus across differences; he lives opportunity and equity every day; and he puts students at the center. He is always looking for bold ideas to build the future, and the community will love working with him."

Last year, MSU appointed Teresa K. Woodruff, then provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, as interim president after the board of trustees pressured former President Samuel L. Stanley to resign.

MSU's board of trustees lost confidence in Stanley after Title IX-reporting issues about the former dean of the business school.

Guskiewicz navigated UNC-Chapel Hill through numerous challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the controversy surrounding the failure to tenure UNC alum and award-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, a shooting and gun-related incident, and a U.S. Supreme Court lawsuit resulting in the removal of affirmative action in college admissions.

During his tenure, the university created a tuition-free scholarship for qualifying students, saw legendary basketball coach Roy Williams pass his role as head coach to alum Hubert Davis, and beat Duke University in the 2022 men's March Madness Final Four.

Guskiewicz sent a campuswide email Friday announcing the move to MSU, saying, "I have loved leading Carolina for nearly five years. We have accomplished so much together, and I am proud of where Carolina is today. We have faced challenging times, but also incredible moments of opportunity."

"It has not always been easy, but as I have often said — easy is boring. We certainly have not been bored."

The Daily Tar Heel, UNC-Chapel Hill's student newspaper, sat down with Guskiewicz — four days before he accepted the MSU presidency — to reflect on the year. Guskiewicz spoke about the impact the Israel-Hamas war has had on the campus, increasing campus safety and security, his then-tentative role as a future MSU president, and reflections on the challenges he faced during his nearly five years as chancellor.

"…In my 28 years here, I've seen this magical place go through challenges that we've seen, but always respond to those challenges and get better," Guskiewicz told The Daily Tar Heel. "These aren't easy jobs, but nobody should jump into this role thinking that it's going to be easy. I tell people that easy is boring, and we certainly haven't gotten bored — and I wouldn't want to."