During a special meeting of the Michigan State University Board of Trustees Monday, Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D., was unanimously named interim president. Her appointment will be effective upon the departure of President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., at a to-be-determined mutually agreed upon date.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this great institution at this moment in our shared history,” said Woodruff. “My focus will be on fostering a culture of trust, safety and open communication for all Spartans.”
Board Chair Dianne Byrum said Woodruff’s understanding of MSU and her strong connections to the academic and strategic missions of the institution make her the ideal leader to shepherd the institution through this period.
“Dr. Woodruff is well positioned to lead our institution at this time while providing inspirational leadership for the university and ensuring we continue on the path toward academic and research excellence,” said Byrum. “The board has full confidence in her ability to move our strategic plans forward and ensure a safe and inclusive campus for all Spartans.”
During Woodruff’s tenure as provost at Michigan State, she has successfully spearheaded improvements to the Title IX disciplinary process with unanimous and broad community support to ensure consistent and transparent disciplinary outcomes among faculty and academic staff. She helped negotiate a fair contract for non-tenured faculty and established a strategic plan to catalyze MSU’s academic and research excellence and student success efforts. She also has built strong partnerships and relationships with state lawmakers, alumni and the philanthropic community, leading to newly invigorated academic physical spaces on campus.
It was such tireless work on behalf of the university and the Spartan community that the American Council on Education Michigan Women’s Network conferred on her the 2022 Distinguished Woman in Higher Education Leadership Award in May. In September, she was honored for her 2020 election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“The faculty thank the Board of Trustees for listening to the community and taking this stabilizing step today,” said Faculty Senate Chairperson Karen Kelly-Blake, Ph.D. “There is still much to be done, and we will continue advocating for faculty and holding the board and administration accountable with the expectation of transparency and clear communication. But today's decision is a step in the right direction.”
"We are incredibly grateful that the board has listened to the Spartan community and put forth Dr. Teresa Woodruff as interim president," said Associated Students of Michigan State University President Jo Kovach. "We are nothing but hopeful for this interim administration and excited to work with Dr. Woodruff in the coming months to reunify this campus. This is a fantastic first step, and we hope to take many more with Dr. Woodruff to be all in for Spartans and give the students the university they deserve."
Prior to joining MSU in August of 2020, Woodruff served as the dean and Associate Provost for Graduate Education in The Graduate School at Northwestern University and held the Watkins Professorship in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In addition to her role as provost, Woodruff is an MSU Foundation Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology and the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She is an internationally recognized expert in ovarian biology and coined the term “oncofertility” to describe the merging of the fields of oncology and fertility.
Woodruff earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology from Northwestern University and holds a bachelor’s in zoology and chemistry from Olivet Nazarene University.
As Woodruff transitions into her new role, she will consult with the academic governance Steering Committee on an interim provost appointment.