3 takeaways from Wright State’s last presidential finalist forum

Cheryl Schrader, the third and final presidential candidate to visit Wright State University, spoke to students and faculty in forums on Wednesday morning.

Schrader, who serves as chancellor of the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Missouri, said she sees similarities between Wright State and some of the other younger colleges she’s worked at. She compared Wright State to Boise State University where she previously served as associate vice president for strategic research initiatives.

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“I watched them move on to the national scene and that was a rewarding experience,” Schrader said. “That’s where I feel Wright State is.”

Schrader, who is is the first woman to serve as chancellor of Missouri S&T, also spoke about her experience managing budgets, promoting inclusion and diversity and trying to be a transparent leader.

Here are three takeaways from the forums Schrader participated in Wednesday morning:

1. Don’t ‘let a good crisis go to waste’

Wright State officials, Schrader said, should translate budget concerns into momentum to solve the university’s financial problems. She said Wright State “shouldn’t let a good crisis go to waste” in its budget issues.

“You’ve been jolted into this reality and that may be a good thing because now everyone is focused going forward,” Schrader said.

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Wright State’s reserve fund has dropped from more than $100 million in 2012 to $12.9 million as of June 30. Wright State also announced in October that it would lay off 23 employees.

Schrader said higher education is at something of a crossroads because of “shrinking budgets and increasing expectations.” Schrader called for Wright State to further diversify its revenue streams, something financial officials at the university have also said needs to happen.

2. Diversity is the ‘linchpin behind innovation’

Schrader, who has degrees in electrical engineering, said that she is interested in diversity issues.

“As you can imagine, throughout my career I have not been in the majority in the groups that I work in,” she said.

Schrader said diversity and inclusion is the “linchpin behind innovation.” Schrader told faculty that she has a history of growing underrepresented groups in faculty and student groups on campuses she’s worked on.

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In 2005, George W. Bush’s administration gave Schrader the Presidential Medal of Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering mentoring. Schrader said part of the reason she received the award was because she was able to bring more women and minorities into those fields at the universities she’s worked at.

3. She thinks ‘transparency’ is important

Schrader said she was happy to receive a question about whether it’s important for administrators to be transparent.

Schrader told faculty she has “always been very purposeful about being open.” She said she set up regular lunches with faculty in Missouri so they could ask questions and get direct answers rather than hearing “other stories.”

She also said that she tries to get out on campus and talk to people regularly.

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“I do walkabouts and stop and talk to people,” Schrader said. “I’ve been in buildings people swore a chancellor had never been in before.”

Schrader also mentioned that she has tried to be transparent with Missouri S&T’s budget by hosting budget forums and taking financial recommendations “from the bottom up.”


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