FAIRBORN — Dr. Cheryl Schrader became Wright State University’s seventh president March. 6.
Schrader, who had served as the chancellor of Missouri S&T since 2012, was chosen from an initial pool of 61 applicants and is the first woman to serve as WSU’s president. She will replace Dr. David Hopkins, who will retire when his contract expires June 30.
“I am both honored and humbled to be the seventh president in the history of Wright State University,” Schrader said after being unanimously approved during a special trustees meeting at the student union. “Seven is my lucky number.”
Schrader signed a five-year contract with base compensation of $425,000 and is set to begin July 1. But knowing the university is facing a budget crisis and possible layoffs, Schrader isn’t waiting until the summer to get going. Financial stability is part of what Schrader called a three-fold mission in her first year with administrative transparency and campus conversation also in the mix.
“I can tell you that I have already been having conversations,” she told the assembled media. “I know that the university is really deep into developing a plan. I am of the mindset that you have a strategic plan that guides your decisions, your behaviors and your investments. It should also guide how you might realign budgets as well. We are in the middle of doing exactly that same thing. We have been passed a reduction down from the state and so we’ve spent some time from the bottom up creating scenarios so we don’t do across the board cuts which are maybe not quite so strategic and prioritizing so that we’re not impacting our revenue sources.”
Board Chair Michael C. Bridges said the challenges at Wright State are many and that higher education in Ohio and across the nation is at a crossroads.
“It will take bold leadership to continue to move this great institution forward,” Bridges said. “The board believes Dr. Schrader’s experience as a leader, innovator and educator makes her ideally suited to guide our university as we look ahead to the next 50 years of transforming the lives of our students and the communities we serve.”
Frequently looking around the packed atrium inside the student union, specifically focusing on myriad students and employees who lined the second-floor railing, Schrader said of primary importance are utmost care and concern for the people of Wright State.
“You’ve gone through a tumultuous several years. You can expect leadership from the next president that engages and empowers the campus community,” she said.
Schrader told the crowd that issues such as global competitiveness, environmental sustainability, energy security, economical growth and geopolitical instability are issues that “weigh heavily on our minds.”
“As the president-designate of this fine university, I believe that institutions like Wright State must take a leadership role in addressing these challenges,” she said. “We must provide abundant opportunities for young men and women to excel in fields that will define our future, our success and will help improve our world and the human condition. We must nurture an ecosystem that allows creativity and innovation to thrive among all of our students, scholars, our researchers and our employees
And Schrader said that innovation, which is at the core of Wright State’s founding, is still a key for the university.
“However the old playbook for higher education is undergoing significant revision,” she said. “And no single institution can solve these challenges on its own. At both the Lake Campus and the Dayton Campus, more and more we look to innovative academic, government, industry, business and community partnerships. True innovation requires the best ideas from all possible sources.”
Schrader formerly served as associate vice president for strategic research initiatives at Boise State as well as the dean of the College of Engineering at Boise State University and held several positions at The University of Texas at San Antonio, including associate dean for graduate studies and research for the College of Engineering and the College of Sciences.
Schrader earned her bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Valparaiso University in Indiana and her master’s and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame.
Other terms of the contract, which was obtained through a public records request, include $54,000 annually in deferred compensation, which will be paid out if Schrader is terminated without cause; $36,000 in housing allowance; a performance incentive bonus of up to 25 percent of the then-annual base salary; and $12,000 in automobile allowance. Should Schrader leave WSU to take another position at another academic institution before the second year of the initial term has been served, she must repay the university $120,000 as liquidated damages.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.