New Wright State president starts as interim leader ends short stint

Wright State University will welcome its third president in about four months as an interim leader leaves and the first woman to run the institution takes over.

Cheryl Schrader, Wright State’s seventh president, works her first official day on the job today. She takes over for interim president Curtis McCray, who led the school for just three and a half months after former president David Hopkins abruptly resigned in March.

Schrader comes to Wright State as the school is at a financial crossroads. WSU trustees in June approved more than $30.8 million in budget cuts.

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Schrader has already been on campus for visits and the announcement that she would become the institution’s next leader. She was also recently at WSU to tour buildings, she tweeted from her presidential Twitter account.

The Dayton Daily News has requested an interview with Schrader upon her arrival and official start as WSU’s seventh president.

“Moving forward will involve engaged teams with responsibility and authority,” Schrader previously said. “Over the first year I will focus on a three-fold mission: financial sustainability, administrative transparency and campus conversation.”

Schrader will be tasked with helping the school to rebuild its reserve fund. Officials have said around $45 million needs to be added to reserves over the next few years.

Wright State’s reserves have dwindled as the school spent more money than it brought in every year since 2012. The years of overspending combined to reach around $120 million this year.

“We’re very excited to have Cheryl start,” said Doug Fecher, new chairman of the WSU board of trustees. “We think she brings a wealth of experience to the university.”

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Schrader comes from the Missouri University of Science and Technology, where she served as the school’s chancellor since 2012. At WSU, she will receive an annual base pay of $425,000 and annual allowances for housing and driving expenses, according to her contract.

At Missouri S&T, Schrader was credited with raising enrollment, increasing revenue, boosting minority and women faculty numbers and taming a tough budget situation. But, she also faced criticism for changes she made in Missouri and even rumblings for a vote of no confidence that never materialized.

Wright State University’s interim president only had a few words of advice for his successor.

“Hold the course,” McCray said.

McCray thanked the campus community for its kindness and “unwavering commitment to students” in a goodbye email on Friday, his last day.

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McCray helped WSU map out its recent budget cuts approved by trustees earlier this month. After the cuts were announced, McCray said that he would have liked to see even more money cut from the college’s 2018 budget.

In his goodbye email, McCray said that the university “wrestled with an important challenge” with passion, resolve and wisdom. He praised WSU for its “strong ethical values” and said that the budget cuts show the school is “emerging leaner, stronger and poised even more now, to thrive.”

“The last three and a half months from my perspective have been necessary and critical to sustaining the ongoing success of Wright State University—and critical to ensuring the bright future of this great place,” McCray wrote. “You are members of a strong institution awash with successes. Don’t be fooled by those who just report your challenges.”

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McCray, who has served as president of one institution or another since the early 1980s, took over at WSU in March. He was paid $119,892 for his 106 days of work at Wright State.

“I wish you well in the coming months and years with President Schrader,” McCray wrote. “She is very lucky to have you. And you to have her.”

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