On April 27, Michigan State University announced the appointment of Teresa Woodruff to serve as provost. Dr. Woodruff has been serving as the Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, dean of the Graduate School and associate provost for graduate education at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Professor Woodruff is an expert in ovarian biology and reproductive science and a leading advocate for equity in women’s healthcare.
Despite Dr. Woodruff’s stellar academic credentials, the Black Faculty, Staff and Administrators Association at Michigan State University has criticized her selection as the university’s next provost. Eunice Foster, a professor of plant, soil, and microbial sciences and president of the Black Faculty, Staff and Administrators Association, sent a letter to Samuel Stanley Jr., president of Michigan State University. In the letter, Dr. Foster wrote that the appointment was “a travesty, unbelievable, outrageous, unconscionable, shocking, and appalling.” Professor Foster added that “to those of us seeking a just, inclusive, and equitable campus, this appointment is a misjudgment of what Michigan State University needs now, given the abysmal state of race relations both on campus and in the nation.”
Michigan State chose Dr. Woodruff, who is White, from a slate of three finalists. The other two candidates were African Americans. At Northwestern some graduate students from underrepresented groups had circulated a complaint against Dr. Woodruff that said her policies “perpetuated harm against underrepresented and underserved graduate students.”
In an email to the Lansing State Journal responding to the opposition to her appointment, Dr. Woodruff stated that “My leadership style is one of inclusiveness. I welcome the opportunity to meet with the BFSSA to discuss their ideas, concerns, and priorities. President Stanley has made clear the importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at MSU, and that priority aligns with my values and goals as well.”