WMU News

Elson Floyd selected as next president of WMU

April 24, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- The Western Michigan University Board of Trustees Friday, April 24, offered the position of president to Dr. Elson S. Floyd, executive vice chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, concluding a 10-month search that involved all key University constituencies and the public.

Floyd, 42, has accepted the offer and will succeed Dr. Diether H. Haenicke as the University's sixth president. Haenicke announced last June that he would retire from the presidency July 31 and return to the faculty after 13 years in office. Floyd's appointment is expected to be effective Aug. 1, subject to contract negotiations.

"Of the five finalists for this position, Dr. Floyd demonstrates that unique combination of experience and perspective we need to lead Western Michigan University into the next century," said Lori B. Waddles of Detroit, chairperson of the Board of Trustees. "He is the right person to help WMU continue its move to the next level."

"I am gratified by the confidence the Board of Trustees has placed in me to be the next president of Western Michigan University, and I am looking forward to working with them," Floyd said. "My wife, Carmento, and I are looking forward to our move to Kalamazoo, and to getting to know both the University and the larger community very well."

Floyd identified five priorities he would pursue as president, beginning with fostering a strong relationship with the state Legislature. "That is vitally important to us," he said.

His other four priorities were private fund raising, which he has said he enjoys, and pursuing the designation of Research II in a widely recognized national ranking system. WMU currently is ranked one step lower as the state's only public Doctoral I university by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

"We also must continue our outreach to the total community, both in Kalamazoo County and within the state more broadly," he continued. "Finally, we must all work to improve the quality of life for the entire University."

Floyd, a native of Henderson, N.C., who has been the chief administrative and operating officer at UNC since 1995, also praised Haenicke.

"Dr. Haenicke has taken Western Michigan University to the threshold of a very exciting new era, and for this the University owes him a great deal," Floyd said. "I am looking forward with great anticipation to the challenges that lie ahead, and I am confident that with the support of the University community we will build on the Haenicke legacy."

Floyd, who holds three degrees from North Carolina, began his career in 1978 as assistant dean for student life and judicial programs officer at UNC. Between 1981 and 1988, he served in several posts there, including: special assistant to the vice chancellor and dean of the Division of Student Affairs; General College adviser; assistant dean of the Division of Student Affairs and the General College; assistant dean of the General College and the College of Arts and Sciences; and associate dean for academic services.

From 1988 to 1990, Floyd was assistant vice president for student services for the University of North Carolina System. In 1990, he joined Eastern Washington University as vice president for student services.

At EWU, he served a year each as vice president for administration and executive vice president. He then spent two years as executive director of the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board until returning to the University of North Carolina.

Floyd is active in a variety of civic and professional associations, including: Rotary International; the United Way of America; the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators; the Association for the Study of Higher Education; and the Education Commissions of the States. He continues to write, present and speak professionally.

He earned his bachelor's degree in political science and speech, his master's degree in adult education and his doctoral degree in higher and adult education, all from UNC. He and his wife have two children.

The search process began when Haenicke announced June 27 that he would retire from the presidency. The Board of Trustees on July 25 established a Presidential Search Advisory Committee and named Richard G. Haworth of Holland, then chairperson of the Board of Trustees, to head the committee. Two other trustees were on the committee, Richard F. Chormann of Kalamazoo and Waddles.

The 10-member committee also included representatives of the faculty, students, administrators, staff members, alumni and the public. The search consultant, Korn Ferry International, conducted public and constituency sessions in October and the committee narrowed a field of 60 candidates to about a dozen in early February.

The search committee interviewed candidates in March before naming five finalists on March 20. In addition to Floyd, the other candidates were: Dr. Donald L. Beggs, chancellor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale; Dr. Blaine A. Brownell, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of North Texas; Dr. Jay Noren, professor of health management and former vice chancellor for health sciences at the University of Wisconsin at Madison; and Dr. Elisabeth A. Zinser, chancellor at the University of Kentucky at Lexington.

Between April 6 and April 21, each finalist came to the campus and gave a public presentation, met with constituency groups, took a tour and was interviewed by the Board of Trustees in a public session.

Media contact: Matt Kurz; matt.kurz@wmich.edu

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