Report: Guskiewicz Leaving UNC for Michigan State

UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz has accepted the presidency at Michigan State University, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

David Jesse, a senior writer with The Chronicle, posted late Wednesday a tweet on X, formerly Twitter, saying, “Kevin Guskiewicz, the current chancellor at UNC-Chapel Hill, will be announced as Michigan State University’s president at 8 a.m. Friday meeting. Meeting notice to be issued tomorrow morning.”

Officials with UNC’s Media Relations, when asked to confirm whether Guskiewicz has accepted the MSU position, said Wednesday night they “have no new information.”

News that Guskiewicz might be leaving Carolina for MSU first broke in November when The State News, the student newspaper at MSU, reported Guskiewicz was the lone finalist for the presidency after the other finalist, Taylor Eighmy, president of The University of Texas at San Antonio, dropped out.

Guskiewicz acknowledged in a statement released Nov. 16 that he was “weighing” the MSU presidency. “I am focused on serving the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a special place I have lived, worked, and loved for 28 years,” he wrote. “I am very proud of what our university accomplishes every day as one of the best public universities in the country. Through the years, a variety of professional opportunities have been presented to me. My family and I must weigh each one, and we are weighing this one.”

After news broke that Guskiewicz was a finalist for the position, MSU officials said they would make an announcement about the presidency by Thanksgiving. Michigan State University has not issued an announcement.

Members of the UNC faculty and other people, including a former chancellor and a state legislator, mounted a campaign to keep Guskiewicz in Chapel Hill.

He received emails, text messages and telephone calls from people who want him to remain at UNC and think he’s done a good job guiding the University through tumultuous times.

Chair of the Faculty Beth Moracco ’92 (MPH, ’99 PhD) sent a letter to Guskiewicz on behalf of her colleagues urging him to remain in Chapel Hill and saying it would be “a devastating loss” if he left the University.

UNC’s Media Relations confirmed this week that Guskiewicz thanked Morocco for her support after she sent her letter. “I appreciate the support and confidence of my fellow faculty members and colleagues who I have worked alongside for 28 years,” Guskiewicz said in a statement. “I am so proud of the amazing things we are accomplishing together. Regardless of where things land, I am confident Carolina will continue to excel and the success of our students will always be a top priority. For my wife, Amy, and I, Carolina will always be a home and we will always be Tar Heels.”

Former Chancellor James Moeser, who served from 2000 to 2008, was also among those who contacted Guskiewicz. “I wrote to him and said I hope he doesn’t leave, but I will understand if he does. This was a text,” Moeser told the Review. “He responded and said, ‘You’ve been a great friend.’ ”

Reports also surfaced that Guskiewicz told MSU officials he would not accept the presidency without assurances that the institution’s Board of Trustees would agree not to interfere with his ability to do his job. According to Michigan State’s student newspaper, Guskiewicz told MSU officials he would accept the job if he is able to lead “without undue interference.”

Guskiewicz has been chancellor since December 2019, after serving as interim chancellor beginning in February that year. He replaced Chancellor Carol Folt, who left UNC for the presidency at the University of Southern California. He helped shape Carolina’s strategic plan, Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good, which outlines a roadmap for the University’s priorities, and has made interdisciplinary teaching and research a cornerstone of his tenure at UNC, among other accomplishments.

Guskiewicz has also served during controversies, including a proposed $2.5 million settlement with the Sons of Confederate Veterans over the Silent Sam statue, a payment that was later overturned by a judge; becoming one of the first universities nationwide to reopen its campus during the COVID-19 pandemic, only to shut down in-person classes after just one week; and navigating the Board of Trustees’ delay in offering a tenure position at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media to journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones ’03 (MA), who later accepted a position at another university.

This year, some members of the UNC System Board of Governors admonished Guskiewicz for failing to notify them of his plans to expand free tuition and fees to students in the incoming 2024 class whose families make less than $80,000 annually.

Richard “Stick” Williams ’75, the first Black man to serve as chair of the UNC Board of Trustees, told the Review he thinks Guskiewicz has been a great chancellor. Williams is also a former chair of the UNC Board of Visitors and of the GAA Board of Directors.

“I’ve known Chancellor Guskiewicz for close to 25 years, and I don’t think there is anybody on campus who loves the University more and is so determined for the University to be successful,” Williams said. “This would be a great, great loss for UNC Chapel Hill.”

— Laurie D. Willis ’86

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