During the past year, I have learned a great deal about the rich history of MSU. I have assessed our strengths and challenges, launching several efforts designed to plan and prepare for new opportunities. I continue to be impressed with all that has been accomplished, particularly our response to COVID-19, and I look forward to facing the future together.
Since last October, while the Executive Vice President for Administration (EVPA) role has been vacant, units that had reported to the EVPA have reported to me as President. I have learned about these functions and the ways they support the university, however, it was never my intent to maintain each of these units as direct reports in the long-term. Following nearly a year of assessment, I am prepared to make changes in the administrative structure of the university to promote greater effectiveness and efficiency and to support our academic mission.
The university faces new challenges that require innovative ways of thinking about our financial and administrative structures. We must optimize operations and continue investing in our academic, student and community missions. Charting a new course requires a greater level of collaboration and coordination than existed in the past structure. It is imperative to implement a new administrative structure now in order to continue nimbly responding to the coronavirus pandemic and emerge in a strong position to reach our highest academic ambitions as we continue robust efforts across the university in strategic, DEI and RVSM planning.
On Friday, I am recommending to the Board of Trustees the appointment of Dr. Melissa Woo as Executive Vice President for Administration. Melissa joined MSU in December as Senior Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer (CIO), following stints as CIO at two other public research universities. Throughout her career, and in her early tenure at MSU, Melissa has proven herself as a strong administrator of large, complex units with a keen ability to refine cross organizational synergies. She leads with integrity and is a strong collaborator with academic units to align administrative services with academic goals.
With this appointment, Human Resources, Infrastructure Planning and Facilities and Land Management will report to Melissa as EVPA. In the spirit of operating within a constrained resource environment, Melissa will also continue to serve as CIO, both preserving resources and providing strong continuity within the crucial information technology area. I look forward to Melissa’s leadership across administrative functions to ensure MSU operates at optimal levels of effectiveness and efficiency.
Additionally, I will be recommending to the Board of Trustees the creation of a new position - Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), with resources for this position available due to Melissa serving dually as EVPA and CIO. A national search will be conducted for this position and the CFO will be tasked with developing a comprehensive long-range financial plan for the university as well as managing our ongoing financial progress. Now more than ever, a coordinated approach to our financial and budget management is crucial as we strive to utilize our institutional resources as effectively as possible. The CFO will also play an integral role as we continue to evaluate our historical budget model to ensure our allocation of resources aligns with our values and priorities.
The university’s central Finance units and Budget Office within the Office of Planning and Budgets will report to the new CFO once hired. At that time, the Provost’s Office will maintain its own academic affairs budgetary function (with a dotted line to the CFO) as well as continue to house the Institutional Research and Facilities Planning and Space Management units. In the interim, as the CFO search proceeds, Vice President for Finance Mark Haas will maintain his current reporting relationship to me as President, and Vice President for Planning and Budgets Dave Byelich will maintain his current dual reporting relationship to me and the Provost.
Further, Vice President Vennie Gore, who in the past reported to the Executive Vice President for Administration, will instead continue to report to me. Vennie’s portfolio spans across the academic and administrative functions of the university and is important to remain a direct presidential report. Vennie has provided exemplary and transformational leadership in his role leading Residential and Hospitality Services and Auxiliary Enterprises at MSU since 2007. He has been an integral leader in developing the university’s Neighborhoods model, is currently leading planning efforts for the Multicultural Center Project and is ably serving as co-chair of the institution’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee. As part of this broader administrative restructuring, I am recommending that the Board of Trustees elevate his role to that of Senior Vice President to reflect his level of responsibility and impact.
In closing, I want to acknowledge that successful institutions are always growing and evolving and MSU is no different. Even in the most challenging of times, like we find ourselves in today as we face the coronavirus and its numerous impacts on our institution, we must continue to plan for the future. I believe these changes will position us well to become more efficient and reach our full potential as we tackle our current challenges and prepare to seize new opportunities. Together we will identify and implement innovative and creative ways to achieve our mission as a world-class land-grant research university. My thanks to all of you for your dedication and commitment to MSU.
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.