Wright State University has confirmed Provost and Executive Vice President Sue Edwards is assuming some presidential duties after current president Cheryl Schrader’s departure announcement last week.
Schrader plans to vacate her position at the end of this year, more than two years into her five-year contract, and Edwards takes the helm amid ongoing student enrollment challenges for Wright State.
Wright State Board of Trustees Finance, Audit, and Infrastructure Committee members discussed student enrollment at a regularly scheduled meeting Friday.
Numbers show enrollment is down nearly 12 percent this year after years of steep declines.
To help attract and retain students in her new, temporary role as acting head of the university, Edwards says it’s important to restore trust with the Miami Valley.
“We had some compounding issues in the last two years of instability, plus a few years of negative financial outlooks. Montgomery and Greene are the two counties in which we have lost traction," she says. "And I think it's because people have lost faith and lost trust in us. It's our job to reestablish that trust and faith.”
Under outgoing president Schrader’s tenure, the university faced a protracted faculty union strike earlier this year and struggled to rebuild revenues and regain financial stability after several years of overspending.
"President Schrader will continue to represent the university at events and in a ceremonial capacity. My aim during this time is to ensure that the university maintains its current momentum and energy towards moving the institution forward. We currently have a number of initiatives that are gaining traction across the campus, and I am truly thankful for all who are working hard to see them come to fruition," Edwards said in a written statement.
Edwards touted two recently announced scholarships, including a more than $1 million state-funded program to support STEM disciplines, such as in the fields of aerospace, medicine, computer technology and alternative energy, and a university-funded scholarship geared to attracting students from Montgomery and Greene Counties.
Edwards is expected to assume the president’s operational duties until December 31, 2019.
Wright State officials have not yet announced when a search for a permanent university president could begin.