New Wright State president says she’ll ‘right the ship very quickly’

Wright State’s new president said she wants to roll up her sleeves and get started shaping the university’s finances early in her presidency.

Cheryl Schrader was named Wright State’s seventh president Monday, becoming the school’s first female leader and inheriting its financial problems, declining enrollment, the possibility of more budget cuts and potential changes in higher education.

None of that troubles Schrader, who currently serves as chancellor at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

“I believe that institutions like Wright State must take a leadership role in addressing these challenges,” Schrader said. “Innovation is at the core of this university.”

Schrader will receive an annual base pay of $425,000 and annual allowances for housing and driving expenses, according to her contract. Outgoing president David Hopkins’ base pay was $424,320.

Schrader’s contract lasts for five years and can be extended for two years by the board of trustees.

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Schrader’s appointment to the presidency, during a special session of the WSU Board of Trustees, was celebrated with bright yellow and green balloons and a party. It stood in stark contrast to the last trustees meeting during which officials spoke of the need to make budget cuts as the the university is expected to spend nearly $40 million more than it brought in during fiscal year 2017.

The university needs to cut $25 million from its budget in FY 2018 and officials have said that means more layoffs are imminent. Wright State laid off 23 employees, including six faculty members, in October and more are expected to be laid off in April.

The university’s enrollment also declined this academic year, resulting in a loss of around $10 million.

While Schrader admitted Wright State is experiencing some “rocky times with finances,” she said she has experience realigning a budget at her current institution, Missouri University of Science and Technology.

“Nonetheless I know there’s been some very good groundwork that’s been laid to address handling the problem,” Schrader said in an exclusive interview with this news organization. “There continues to be adjustments along the way so that we’ll have that opportunity right the ship very quickly.”

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On her first day, July 1, Schrader is already planning to go out and meet people at the university. She wants to see the campus unite, despite some of its recent difficulties, she said.

“I think it’s most important to bring people together,” Schrader said. “That means there’s going to be lots of walkabouts.”

The “old playbook of higher education” has been thrown out, Schrader said, and therefore different approaches will be taken by her administration. Her administration will be about financial sustainability, transparency and “campus conversation,” she said.

“Together we will create a vision and plan that will guide us forward so that Wright State University is a great place to work and to be,” Schrader said. “So that Wright State University is what it needs to be for this nation and for what Ohio needs it to be.”

Schrader sees Wright State as a college on the brink of entering the national scene. She has compared it to Boise State University where she previously served as associate vice president for strategic research initiatives.

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“Together, we will take this university to the next level,” she said.

Schrader was welcomed by hundreds of students, staff and faculty on Monday as she was introduced as the university’s seventh president in the student union atrium.

The announcement ended a nearly seven-month search, Wright State’s first national presidential search since 1992. Hopkins, who was absent from Monday’s event, was promoted from the provost’s position in 2007 and he will leave the college when his contract expires on June 30.

Schrader was named a finalist for the president’s job in February, in part for her research background, officials have said.

“We’ve been looking so forward to coming and joining Wright State and the wonderful community,” Schrader said. “Having that reception with people who are ready and eager to chart the course for the next 50 years is just tremendous.”

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Wright State’s 7th President

Wright State University’s next president will be Cheryl Schrader, the first woman to lead the college. Schrader has served in various positions at several universities across the country. Below is a glance at her career history.

• Current Job: Chancellor of Missouri S&T, school of just under 9,000 students in Rolla, Missouri since 2012

• Previous Job: Vice president of research and economic development, Boise State University, 2011-2012

• Degrees: Bachelor's degree in electrical engineery from Valparaiso, masters degree in electrical engineering form Notre Dame University, Doctorate in philosophy from Notre Dame.

Reactions at Wright State

Leaders at Wright State University gave their reactions to Cheryl Schrader being named the next president of the college on Monday.

• Lukas Wenrick, student body president

“We said that we would need a servant leader who would advocate tirelessly on behalf of the university and its students, faculty, staff and alumni. Dr. Cheryl Schrader is that servant leader.”

• Grace Ramos, WSU board of Trustees

“The glass ceiling has been broken at Wright State with the first female president.”

• Dawn Banker, classified staff advisory council

“The staff council looks forward to future collaborations with the president to help create a transparent, purposeful and inclusive atmosphere and empower all individuals at Wright State University.”

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