New Michigan State U Provost Pick Has Many Black Faculty up in Arms

Many Black administrators, faculty and staff at Michigan State University (MSU) are unhappy with the announcement that the institution has appointed Teresa Woodruff the new provost, saying she doesn’t have a record of paying attention to the issues of underrepresented students, reported the Lansing State Journal.

Woodruff is currently dean of Northwestern University’s Graduate School. In March, a coalition representing marginalized and underrepresented students at the school petitioned to remove and replace her from her position, reported The Daily Northwestern.

Teresa WoodruffTeresa Woodruff

The MSU Black Faculty, Staff and Administrators Association said Woodruff’s isn’t the right kind of appointment for a university that is already reeling from several racist incidents.

“The reaction … in the words of many in our community is ‘a travesty,’ ‘unbelievable,’ ‘outrageous,’ ‘unconscionable,’ ‘shocking,’ and ‘appalling,’” wrote Eunice Foster, president of the association, in a letter sent to MSU president Samuel Stanley Jr. last week. “To those of us seeking a just, inclusive, and equitable campus, this appointment is a misjudgment of what Michigan State University … needs now, given the abysmal state of race relations both on campus and in the nation.”

On her part, Woodruff told the Lansing State Journal that she believes in inclusiveness.

“I am open to meeting with any group(s) who have concerns and that will not change once I come to Michigan State University,” she told the publication in an email. “I welcome the opportunity to meet with” the association “to discuss their ideas, concerns and priorities.”

Woodruff, who is White, is an expert in ovarian biology and reproductive science. She was one of three finalists for the position of MSU provost. The other two finalists are both Black and their academic interests center on underrepresented communities and literature.