UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz expected to be hired as Michigan State president

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz is expected to leave the university and become the next president of Michigan State University.

The Michigan State Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting Friday morning where they will vote on Guskiewicz’s hiring, trustee Dennis Denno confirmed to The News & Observer Thursday.

The Chronicle of Higher Education first reported the news Wednesday on X, formerly Twitter.

The move to hire Guskiewicz comes three weeks after he was reported to be the sole finalist for the Michigan State job and said he was “weighing” the opportunity with his family.

Guskiewicz, who has spent almost 30 years as a faculty member and administrator at UNC, has held the chancellorship in Chapel Hill since 2019. He filled the role on an interim basis beginning in February that year, before being named the university’s 12th chancellor in December.

He has seen the university through a tumultuous four-plus years, first inheriting the years-long controversy over the Silent Sam Confederate monument upon becoming chancellor, then leading UNC through the COVID-19 pandemic and national controversies, including the initial denial of tenure to journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. More recently, he confronted the tragedy this fall of an on-campus shooting that left a professor dead.

In going to Michigan State, he will enter a university experiencing similar turmoil, with infighting among its Board of Trustees and national controversies, including the Larry Nassar scandal, thrusting it into the spotlight in recent years. The university’s previous president resigned over actions by the university’s trustees, saying he had “lost confidence” in the governing board.

Guskiewicz is a renowned expert on sports concussions and athletic training, receiving a MacArthur “genius grant” fellowship for that work in 2011. He joined the faculty at UNC in 1995 and rose through the ranks of the exercise and sport science department before becoming the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, the university’s largest academic unit, in 2016.

How the search process will work

A search for a new chancellor at UNC is expected to begin after UNC System President Peter Hans selects someone to serve in the role on an interim basis, though no timeline for such a decision has been announced as of Thursday.

The interim chancellor will “provide continuity as we prepare for a full search” at UNC-Chapel Hill, system spokesperson Andy Wallace told The N&O by email Tuesday.

Per UNC System policy, the search process for a new, permanent chancellor will commence with Hans and UNC Board of Trustees Chair John Preyer naming a 13-member search committee, consisting of Hans, campus Board of Trustees members, a member of the UNC System Board of Governors, a chancellor from another UNC System university and members of the campus community.

Wallace said the system expects “a competitive search that will attract a wide range of great candidates from all over the country.”

The search committee will gather input from people with a stake in the hiring about the qualities they would like to see in the next chancellor and draft a statement about those qualities. The committee will interview candidates and propose a list of three finalists to the Board of Trustees.

The Board of Trustees, using the information provided by the search committee, will select at least three finalists to submit to the system president, who then chooses one candidate to submit to the system Board of Governors for approval.

The search process is confidential, but the final vote to hire a chancellor must take place in a public meeting.

The UNC System last week concluded a search for a new chancellor at UNC Asheville, while a search at NC A&T State University is ongoing. A search at Winston-Salem State University is expected to begin in January.