WSU President tours Michigan by bicycle on inaugural Road Warrior Tour
By Brianna Ellison
As summer waned and Wayne State students, staff and faculty began final preparations for the upcoming school year, WSU President M. Roy Wilson was gearing up for a mission of his own: A three-city, four-day Road Warrior cycling tour that saw him sweep through a host of small Michigan cities in early August before making his way back to campus.
Joined by four colleagues, Wilson lit out on his journey on Aug. 1, determined to engage as many residents and perspectives from as many corners of the state as possible.
“Michigan is more than Detroit, and we are constantly striving to understand the needs and perceptions of those who live throughout the state,” explained Wilson.
Departing from the WSU campus, the cyclists pedaled for nearly 100 miles to St. Clair, a beautiful community set on the St. Clair River. There, they hosted an evening reception at The Voyageur Restaurant, entertaining more than 80 St. Clair locals, alumni, current students and prospective students in wide-ranging conversations. Local luminaries who joined the dialogue included St. Clair Mayor Bill Cedar.
The next morning, Aug. 2, the team took off for Midland, Mich., in the central part of the state. They rode 123 miles before stopping for a WSU-hosted reception at Pizza Sam’s, where several parents brought their college-bound children to hear about what Wayne State has to offer.
The last stop on the tour was DeWitt, near Lansing. Arriving there on the evening of Aug. 3, President Wilson and the other cyclists joined WSU staff at Relli’s Italian Restaurant. Wilson was met with a room packed with alumni, local dignitaries, media and well-wishers. From there, Wilson headed back to Detroit.
“My goal starting out was to meet new people and have a candid and open conversation,” said Wilson. “I hoped to talk about higher education, Wayne State and the role we play in educating students, conducting research and strengthening Michigan’s economy. We talked about all of these things, and more. I got a great workout, and the time on my bike provided time to think about what I’d heard, what we’d learned and how Wayne State can better serve Michigan communities.”
By the end of the tour on Aug. 4, Wilson and his colleagues had cycled 427 miles and had formed countless new friendships in several Michigan communities throughout the state.
“It was a tremendous experience, and I plan to make the tour again next summer—perhaps expanding the tour to communities in different parts of the state,” said Wilson. “Our students are from a variety of communities throughout Michigan, and I think it’s important for me to visit where they live in order to learn as much about their concerns, needs and hopes as I can.”
Photo 1: President M. Roy Wilson and his colleagues prepare to depart from Wayne State’s campus for the four-day cycling tour of Michigan communities
Photo 2: The cyclists near Marine City while traveling to St. Clair
Photo 3: President Wilson chats with community members, and WSU students, parents, and alumni at Relli’s Italian Restaurant in DeWitt