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MSU President Teresa Woodruff shares ambitions for the school in university address

Screencapture of the livestream of Michigan State University's President Teresa Woodruff delivering the school's State of the University's address in 2023.
Screencapture
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MSU
During her first State of the University Address, Michigan State University's president said she wants graduation rates at the school to surpass 85%.

Michigan State University President Teresa Woodruff says she wants the school to continue to improve how it handles incidents of sexual misconduct.

Speaking to a packed theater at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts Wednesday during her first State of the University address, Woodruff championed the university's improvements to its Title IX policiesover the last year.

“We have made progress in offering a safe and welcoming university environment for many, and we still have work in front of us to enable all members of this community to feel the same sense of belonging."

We have made progress in offering a safe and welcoming university environment for many, and we still have work in front of us to enable all members of this community to feel the same sense of belonging.
MSU President Teresa Woodruff

The changes the university has made to its Title IX policies and procedures were part of a 2019 agreement MSU made with the federal government. In the agreement, the U.S Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services outlined a list of actions the university was required to complete to be Title IX compliant.

Woodruff became MSU’s president in early November of 2022 after her predecessor Samuel Stanley Jr. stepped down amid ongoing tensions with the Board of Trustees.

In December, MSU announced it had completed 95 action items on the list including providing clear definitions of prohibited misconduct and strengthening mandatory reporting policies and training.

Woodruff said one of her priorities in 2023 is to hire a new Vice President of Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance.

She also pledged to work towards pushing graduation rates at the school to 86%. In the last seven years, the university has seen six-year graduation rates increase to 82%. That figure covers all students who finished their undergraduate degrees within six years.

“We are doubling our efforts to continue that upward trajectory in all student categories throughout the state, and indeed the nation,” she said.

Our enrollment remains strong, and that demonstrates the value of an MSU degree.
MSU President Teresa Woodruff

During her speech, Woodruff touched on MSU’s financial position as it manages its $3.2 billion operating budget.

“Our enrollment remains strong, and that demonstrates the value of an MSU degree. And our revenue from federal grants increased by 8%,” she said.

The university’s 2022 fiscal year financial results include a net position that decreased by $159 million. Woodruff acknowledged that loss in her speech and said it was largely related to unrealized investment losses.

Woodruff also shared that starting this month, every benefit eligible current employee and new hire will be immediately eligible to enroll in the 403B base retirement plan with voluntary participation.

"This change increases equity across our workforce, benefiting employee categories, including fixed-term specialists and research associates," she added.

Overall, Woodruff said, the university’s campus wide survey demonstrated that some forms of victimization have dropped.

“Incidence of workplace incivility and employee sexual harassment dropped significantly since 2019, according to the survey, and this is of course against the backdrop of the COVID pandemic, which saw domestic violence increase prodigiously,” she told the crowd.

Woodruff also announced plans aimed at making the campus a safer place for historically marginalized people.

Results of MSU's 2022 Know More survey have showed disproportionate victimization of students, faculty and staff with disabilities and of those who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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