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Western Michigan University President Makes Historic

Western Michigan University President Makes Historic Move to Missouri


After several days of speculation and reports of a counteroffer, Dr. Elson S. Floyd became the University of Missouri’s first Black president last month. Floyd, who has served as president of Western Michigan University since 1998, will begin his new position Jan. 6.

Prior to his service in Michigan, the 46-year-old administrator was executive vice president at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Floyd’s selection concludes a national search that began in March. The board of curators unanimously selected Floyd as their top candidate and voted Nov. 11 to offer him the position. Western Michigan made Floyd a counteroffer in hopes of retaining him. On Nov. 13, the university released an official announcement of Floyd’s appointment.

“Dr. Floyd is a strong leader who inspires the people around him,” says UM Board President John Mathes. “The selection committee found that he is highly regarded by all who come in contact with him, from faculty, staff and students to officials at the highest levels of state government and higher education.”

Floyd brings a wide range of administrative experience to UM, as well as valuable system-wide and statewide perspectives on higher education issues and policies. He began his career in 1978 at UNC-Chapel Hill, one of the nation’s leading research institutions. He subsequently spent a total of 13 years with the university in positions that included dean posts in the Division of Student Affairs, the General College and the College of Arts and Sciences.

From 1990 to 1993, he served at Eastern Washington University as vice president for student services, vice president for administration and later as executive vice president. In the latter capacity, he was the university’s chief operating officer.

Before returning to UNC-Chapel Hill in 1995, Floyd spent two years as executive director of the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board. This agency is responsible for statewide coordination, planning, oversight, policy analysis and student financial aid programs for Washington’s statewide postsecondary education system.

A native of Henderson, N.C., Floyd has three degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill — a bachelor’s degree in political science and speech, a master’s degree in adult education, and a doctorate in higher and adult education.

As president of the UM System, Floyd will report directly to the nine-member board of curators, which is appointed by the governor. He will oversee the UM System’s four campuses, located in Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla and St. Louis. He also will be responsible for the statewide services of University Outreach and Extension. Floyd’s annual compensation will be $350,000 and he will be eligible to receive $50,000 in deferred annual compensation pending successful annual performance reviews.

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