Search Advisory Committee set for Vice President of Research and Innovation

Dear colleagues,

Western Michigan University's impact on the world is fueled by its teaching, research and creative scholarship produced by our esteemed faculty. Across higher education, Western's engagement in discovery continues to be nationally known, respected and productive, as represented by our faculty winning national awards and grant funding. In fiscal year 2021, research awards were up by nearly 21% compared to fiscal year 2020. The funding earned by our researchers supports efforts that improve lives. Our Resiliency Center for Families and Children is just one of many examples. Established last year with a $1.5 million state appropriation, this center designed to meet the needs of those experiencing trauma, toxic stress, chronic disability, neurodevelopmental disorders or substance use disorders recently received an additional $750,000.

We also continue to earn support in advancing education, automotive technology, sustainability, energy and many other areas. With our solid reputation in research and creativity preceding us, we look forward to attracting an exemplary Vice President for Research and Innovation who will take us into our next era advancing the frontiers of knowledge and creative activity. 

Today, I'd like to introduce the dedicated members of the Search Advisory Committee who will be carrying out our national search. The members are charged with identifying and vetting the candidates for this critical leadership role. 

Co-chairing the Search Advisory Committee are Jeff Breneman, vice president for government relations, and Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, professor of engineering design, manufacturing and management systems. Assisting the team is the search firm Greenwood/Asher & Associates.

Search Advisory Committee members:

  • Dr. Wendy Beane, associate professor of biological sciences, College of Arts and Sciences 
  • Dr. Robert Bensley, professor of public health, College of Health and Human Services 
  • Jill Bland, managing partner, Southwest Michigan First
  • Dr. Christine Byrd-Jacobs, dean of the Graduate College and professor of biological sciences, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Dr. Charles Crawford, professor of sociology, College of Arts and Sciences 
  • Dr. Regena Fails Nelson, professor of early childhood, College of Education and Human Development 
  • Dr. Claudia Fajardo, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • Marilyn Kritzman, president of the Faculty Senate and faculty specialist in the School of Communication, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Shellie Mosher, assistant director of grants and contracts, Office of Research and Innovation
  • Thi Tran, doctoral student studying clinical psychology
  • Dr. Gregory Vanden Heuvel, associate dean of research and professor of biomedical sciences, WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine

In coming weeks, the committee will announce in WMU Today formal opportunities for you to provide feedback on the qualities you would like to see in our next permanent Vice President for Research and Innovation. My thanks to the committee for its work and to Dr. Steven Carr, who is leading the Office of Research and Innovation as interim vice president until the next leader is named.

Thank you,

Edward Montgomery