Statement on the Appointment of the Hon. Edward B. Montgomery as Ninth President of Western Michigan University

by WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick

Your effectiveness as a leader is a product of recruiting and retaining strong and independent people to work for you.”

— The Honorable Edward B. Montgomery,
Ninth President of Western Michigan University

After seven months serving on the Presidential Search Advisory Committee alongside 21 colleagues from a diverse variety of campus constituencies, under the capable (and also generous and respectful) leadership of Trustees Bill Johnston and Jim Bolger, I could not be more delighted to welcome the Honorable Edward B. Montgomery to Western Michigan University as its ninth president.

Dr. Montgomery’s vitae is beyond impressive by any standard. An accomplished academic with a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard, he has published widely, directed over two dozen doctoral dissertations, taught graduate and undergraduate courses in economics, labor relations, and public policy, and performed extensive university and professional service. Dr. Montgomery understands the work of the faculty because for much of his adult life, that has been – and continues to be – his work, including in his most recent role as founding dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. He is truly one of us.

Beyond his success in the academic realm, Dr. Montgomery also has a highly distinguished record of public service and executive experience. He served as Chief Economist (1997-99) and as Chief Operating Officer (1999-2001) for the U.S. Department of Labor, under Labor Secretary Alexis Herman and President Bill Clinton. In the latter role, he was responsible for a cabinet-level department with an annual budget of over $30 billion and 17,000 employees.

In 2009, Dr. Montgomery was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the Department of Labor Presidential Transition Team, to lead the White House Council on Auto Communities and Workers, and to serve on the Auto Task Force.

But his extensive leadership experience, impressive and valuable political talents and connectedness, and stellar academic credentials are only part of the story. The son of a proud union machinist and organizer who went on to earn his Ph.D. in history and become a professor at the University of Pittsburgh and later at Yale, Dr. Montgomery brings a unique personal history and sensibility to the job of university president. In his application materials and interview, he made a strong case for the values of shared governance, academic freedom, diversity and inclusion as “central to everything,” affordability and accessibility for students, and the importance of recognizing and respecting staff and offering them paths for advancement.

Dr. Montgomery emphasizes that “Top-down management rarely works and the best institutions are made up of units and people striving for excellence (defined in the myriad of ways that reflect the range of unit missions) who recognize the importance of the common good and are supported by central administration investments and structures that allow them to make progress.”

“Presidents can shape and guide this progress,” he adds, “but at the end of the day success comes because the faculty, staff, students, and alumni have become animated around a common vision for the future.”

Please join me in welcoming the Honorable Edward B. Montgomery, Ninth President of Western Michigan University,  to our community, along with wife Kari and their grown children, E.J. (already a Bronco and on track to graduate this year), Lindsay, and Elizabeth.

Along with our campus community, I appreciate the leadership these past 10 years of President John Dunn, particularly his unwavering commitment to students and unrelenting passion for Western Michigan University. With many thanks for his dedication to this institution and especially to our students, I wish him a satisfying retirement and many more fulfilling years of continuing public service.

This is a transformational moment for Western Michigan University. As a faculty member as well as in my role as WMU-AAUP president, I am feeling newly energized at the prospect of working with Dr. Montgomery as he shares with us the leading-edge vision he is here to collaborate with us to achieve. Onward!

Next WMU president to be announced April 12 (two events)

Letter to the faculty from WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick

April 10, 2017

Dear colleagues,

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, the Board of Trustees will finalize and announce their selection of the next president of Western Michigan University at a formal session on Wednesday, April 12, at 11 a.m. in Heritage Hall. The president-select is expected to be present at the session, which is open to the public. All members of the WMU-AAUP bargaining unit are encouraged to attend as schedules permit.

Later in the day on Wednesday, the president-select will be introduced to the campus community at a special event to be held from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in 157-159 Bernhard. Bargaining-unit faculty are encouraged to attend this event as well.

As most of you know, I serve on the Presidential Search Advisory Committee, along with 21 other colleagues from a diverse variety of campus constituencies, under the capable (and also generous and respectful) leadership of Trustees Bill Johnston and Jim Bolger. While I have had – and have expressed – discomfort with the confidential nature of the search, I am extremely pleased with the three finalists. The search committee recommended these three candidates to the Board of Trustees on March 29, following interviews on March 22-23 and extensive deliberation. All three are outstanding, and I would be overjoyed to welcome any one of them as the next president of Western Michigan University.

The search committee has not yet been informed of the Board’s choice, which we are told by Trustee Johnston was unanimous following their interviews of the three finalists on April 3-4. We are scheduled to meet with the Board on Wednesday morning before their public session. For now, I can say that each of the finalists would bring enormously valuable and unique talents, qualities, vision, and experience to the role of president, and that all three have demonstrated – across their careers and in their interviews and application materials – the kinds of smarts, skills, and values that many if not most us very much want to see in our next president. These values include a deep understanding of and respect for faculty and the work we do, commitment to maintaining and enhancing WMU’s profile as a research university, and genuine interest in helping our students achieve to their fullest potential.

This is an important and exciting moment in the history of our institution. Profound changes are coming our way beginning July 1, and I believe that these will be very positive changes. Along with our campus community, I appreciate President Dunn’s leadership these past 10 years, particularly his unwavering commitment to students and unrelenting passion for Western Michigan University. At the same time, I am also feeling newly energized by the prospect of new leadership, along with the leading-edge vision and direction our next president will help us find for this university in which we have all invested so much.

After Wednesday’s announcement, I am confident that many of you will be feeling the same way.

In solidarity,
Lisa

Lisa C. Minnick
President, WMU-AAUP
Associate Professor of English
and Gender & Women’s Studies
Western Michigan University