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Profile: WSU’s Outgoing and Incoming Board of Governors
By Gus Navarro
Have you ever wondered how M. Roy Wilson was elected as president of Wayne State? Or perhaps you’ve been curious about how the university receives funding, sets tuition rates or secures the money to build on campus. The answer to these questions lie with the Board of Governors of Wayne State University. Comprised of eight members who serve eight-year terms, the Board is in charge of the university’s finances and works to ensure that Wayne State is a destination for those seeking an institution of higher learning. While most public universities have a governing board, Wayne State’s is unique for a few reasons.
Residents of Michigan vote on the Board of Governors during the general election held every two years. Out of the 15 public universities in Michigan, only Wayne State, MSU and U of M have governing boards voted on by the public. The remaining schools in Michigan have governing boards, but the governor and state senate choose them. Nationally, there are only three other states where elections of university governing boards take place. With the recent November election behind us, it is time to thank outgoing members Paul Massaron and Gary S. Pollard for all they’ve done in service to Wayne State. It is also time to welcome our new members.
First elected in 2000, Paul Massaron completed his 16th year of service in December. During his 32-year career with the UAW, and a background in labor relations, negotiating contracts, arbitration, labor education and political action, Massaron brought invaluable experience to the Board. Massaron is a skilled negotiator, always considering how decisions made by the Board would impact the campus community.
With 16 years of service on the Board, the list of Massaron’s accomplishments is extensive. Multiple renovations and capital projects such as The Welcome Center, the Bookstore, student housing, Mazurek Center and Applebaum College were approved and finished during his tenure. This was all accomplished by including board members, and faculty and student representatives in the conversation. Wayne State has grown a lot over the last 16 years, and Paul Massaron was a big part of that. He is proud for having helped steer the university through “almost 16 years of historic disinvestment by the State of Michigan in public universities.” Massaron says that he remains hopeful that state politicians will recognize that putting funds into higher education will be part of the road to economic success for Michigan.
Gary S. Pollard served on the Board for eight years, also leaving an indelible mark on Wayne State. Elected in 2008, Pollard has been involved with many of the projects and changes happening on campus and around Detroit. As a Detroit native, Pollard brought an important perspective to the Board and was a staunch advocate for the community. Having served in the Navy, Pollard was quick to support the opening of the now nationally renowned Student Veteran Resource Center.
Several projects approved during Pollard’s term have changed, or will change, the face of Wayne State. The IBio building, the Mike Ilitch School of Business and the recently approved housing partnership ensure that Wayne State will continue to be an integral part of Detroit’s resurgence. Pollard also held many leadership roles on the Board. Perhaps most notably, Pollard chaired the Presidential Search Committee, bringing President Wilson to campus.
At the January swearing-in ceremony, Wayne State welcomed two new members to the Board, Michael Busuito and Mark Gaffney.
Busuito received his M.D. from WSU in the early 80s and built a successful medical practice while continuing to conduct research, publish and teach at Wayne State. Having been a part of the university family for 40 years, he understands the need to manage the budget without raising tuition. Busuito hopes to “benefit the entire university by leading the School of Medicine into a more stable future.”
With a background in labor relations and management, Gaffney brings a unique set of experiences to the Board. Between serving as President of the Michigan AFL-CIO and working as a union official for Local #214, he’s represented working families in Michigan for over 30 years. Gaffney is familiar with WSU from his service on the advisory board for Labor @ Wayne and by teaching in the MAELR program. Gaffney hopes to grow WSU’s reputation locally and nationally while keeping tuition affordable. In looking to the future, Gaffney explained, “Wayne State must continue to be an economic engine for the City of Detroit and a welcoming, diverse and safe place for students to live and thrive.”
Despite such different professional backgrounds, Gaffney and Busuito both hope to have a positive impact on Wayne State University. They both understand that WSU has tremendous upside and is vital to the City of Detroit. Wayne State’s Board of Governors is unique and our Board members have a responsibility to ensure that the university is successful through working closely with administrators, faculty members and students. If past experience is any indication, it’s clear that Governors Busuito and Gaffney are up to the task.