- Kevin Guskiewicz, chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, confirmed Thursday that he is considering taking over the Michigan State University presidency.
- Michigan State’s student press, The State News, first reported Wednesday that Guskiewicz was weighing the presidency and that the other finalist — Taylor Eighmy, president of the University of Texas at San Antonio — had dropped out of the running. Guskiewicz said in an emailed statement to Higher Ed Dive on Thursday that a “variety of professional opportunities have been presented to me. My family and I must weigh each one, and we are weighing this one,” referring to the Michigan State job.
- Guskiewicz has been UNC-Chapel Hill’s chancellor since 2019, first filling the role on an interim basis starting that year. He has steered the 31,500-student university through multiple challenges, including its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Guskiewicz inherited a yearslong controversy when he became interim chancellor.
That was the debate over a Confederate monument on campus known as Silent Sam, which some students and alumni had long wanted removed. In 2018, protestors had toppled the monument.
Officials ultimately removed the statue from campus. But Guskiewicz drew flack because one of his deputies had helped craft a deal to hand it over to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a neo-Confederate group.
The organization had sued to have the monument reinstalled. But the system settled, seeking to give the group $2.5 million to preserve Silent Sam elsewhere.
However, a county judge in 2020 overturned the arrangement, saying the group lacked standing to sue.
Guskiewicz also guided the campus’s contentious fall 2020 reopening during the first year of COVID-19.
Students returned to online coursework just days after the university reopened due to the coronavirus spreading across campus. At the time, critics said the campus shouldn’t have reopened in the first place and attributed the move to political pressure from state Republicans
UNC-Chapel Hill, and the North Carolina system as a whole, has faced accusations that its governing bodies are under the thumb of Republicans, who appoint the system’s board members.
Guskiewicz also took the reins as chancellor when UNC-Chapel Hill was being sued over its race-conscious admissions policies, which the U.S. Supreme Court this summer ruled unconstitutional.
Michigan State has likewise seen its fair share of controversy in recent years, notably its handling of reports against Larry Nassar, a former doctor who sexually abused hundreds of athletes at the university and members of the USA Gymnastics team.
A judge sentenced Nassar to up to 175 years in prison for his crimes in 2018, but the pain of the scandal still lingers. A group of sexual abuse survivors and their families sued Michigan State just this year, alleging university officials had concealed thousands of documents related to the case.
Fallout from the scandal contributed to a revolving door of presidents at Michigan State. The day of Nassar's sentencing, former president Lou Anna Simon resigned over criticism she had bungled sexual abuse reporting. Four people have held the title since Simon.
The most recent resignation came in 2022, when Samuel Stanley stepped down after drawing ire for his handling of sexual misconduct reports. Teresa Woodruff, formerly Michigan State’s provost, has served as interim president since his departure. Woodruff did not seek the job permanently.
A spokesperson for Michigan State, which enrolls more than 51,000 students, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.