Dr. Rema Vassar has been elected next board chair of Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees, making her the first Black woman to do so.
Vassar – along with Dan Kelly, who was elected vice chair – will each serve a two-year term, ending January 2025. Dr. Stefan J. Fletcher will also become the board’s next secretary and chief of staff, effective Jan. 30.
Vassar – who was already a trustee – quoted Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress in 1968, during the board meeting.
“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining,” Vassar said, quoting the iconic politician. “You make progress by implementing ideas.”
Chisholm reminded her of the leaders who came before, Vassar said.
“I wore my Shirley Chisholm earrings today to remind me of those who came before me in brave leadership,” Vassar said. “Shirley said she is a catalyst for change. I’m channeling her as we make progressive change across the global Spartan community. I am grateful to women who take up the responsibility to lead and thankful to my fellow board members for trusting me. Thank you for agreeing to work with me for the best of MSU.”
The board also passed a resolution authorizing the board chair to negotiate and enter into an agreement for consulting services for board governance and bylaws and policy development.