Wayne State Trustees Push Back on Free College

October 30, 2019

Three members of Wayne State University's governing board are criticizing the university's president over a free tuition plan Wayne State rolled out last week. They said M. Roy Wilson didn't brief the board about the plan until the last minute and overstepped his authority, according the Detroit Free Press.

"This tuition pledge has major financial, political and reputational implications, yet the president did not inform nor discuss with all members of the board the details of the pledge prior to the morning the tuition pledge was announced," the trustees said in a written statement. "The announcement of the tuition pledge was a desperate move by a president on the ropes who has exhausted all options and is digging in but as board members, we will continue to hold him accountable."

A spokesman for the university said that while the board's chair was given advance notice about the free tuition program, the rest of the board was not informed in a timely fashion -- a mistake the university regrets.

"For most announcements, we alert the board prior to sharing the information with other stakeholders, including media, often on the day of the announcement," the spokesman said. "This event was originally going to be more modest, but during the planning we felt it deserved more public attention, and the governor and mayor were invited to speak. In retrospect, we should have alerted the entire board at this time."

The three board members have been feuding with Wilson and other trustees since early this year, the newspaper reported, with much of the dispute revolving around the university's medical school.

Kim Trent, the chair of Wayne State's board, took issue with the three trustees' take on the free tuition announcement.

"It's sad, indeed, that they would use the occasion of the announcement of the Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge to once again show how desperate they are to cast not only President Wilson, but even his team's best ideas, in a negative light," Trent told the Free Press.

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