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Michigan State University

Spartan Profiles: Teresa Sullivan

Michigan State University artistic image


            The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has tabbed a Spartan as its new provost, the highest academic official after the president.  Indeed, Teresa A. Sullivan, ’70, the executive vice chancellor for academic affairs of the University of Texas System, was recently named Michigan’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.  She will oversee U-M’s 19 schools and colleges as well as numerous interdisciplinary institutes and centers. 

            Chosen after an eight-month search, Sullivan is the second Spartan to become provost of a major public university in Michigan in the past year—Kim Wilcox, ’76, was earlier named MSU provost. "It is an honor to join the University of Michigan and its excellent administrative team," Teresa says. "I am excited to get to know this great University and its faculty, staff and students in depth.” 

            A native of Mississippi, Teresa was recruited by MSU as a National Merit Scholar.  “There was some culture shock, but it was a good experience,” she recalls of her days at MSU’s James Madison College.  “There were lots of terrific people—my academic advisor Bob Banks, George Will, founding dean Herb Garfinkel, and Bernie Finifter in sociology.” 

            She was one of the first three students selected to serve on MSU’s Academic Council, and also served six months as a Presidential Fellow under President Clifton Wharton.  She also tried out for the debate team, meeting her future husband Doug Laylock, who was then president of the debate team.  After MSU, Teresa earned a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago. 

            When asked what her major challenge would be at Michigan, she did not hesitate in replying, “Adequate funding, and that probably is true for every public university in the country.  This is a really important issue.  China is pouring billions into higher education.  They want to achieve what we have, and we have to preserve it.”

Author: Robert Bao

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