11/06/19: Controversy Over the Firing of President Wilson

Dear Colleagues:

You have all received a message from Ms. Kim Trent concerning the action taken in a Board meeting Wednesday night. She makes the argument that the action taken by the Board in dismissing President M. Roy Wilson in the Board meeting was invalid for legal reasons. I am not qualified to make a legal determination as to whether or not the Board action was valid or not. I can make the political judgment that the present situation with the divided Board is not helpful for the Board and, consequently, for the University. It is virtually impossible for the University to function effectively in the present situation.

I understand that Board members who acted to dismiss President Wilson have referred the matter to Attorney General Dana Nessel for a ruling on the legality of the Board action in Wednesday night’s meeting. Let us hope that she acts swiftly to clarify the situation. You have available the message from Ms. Trent supporting the position that the Wednesday Board meeting was not properly convened. In the interest of providing members of our bargaining unit with the maximum information available on the situation, I am forwarding to you the message that I received from the four Board members who voted against President Wilson so that you can form your own opinion on the matter.

In solidarity,


*. *. *

From BOG Members:

Michael Busuito, MD, Anil Kumar, MD, Sandy Hughes O’Brien, Esq., and Dana Thompson, Esq.

Under Article 8, Section 5 of the Michigan Constitution, one of the responsibilities of the Wayne State University Board of Governors is to hire the president of the University to work under the Board’s supervision. The president of the University is an employee of the Wayne State University Board of Governors. The president and his administration is NOT a co-equal branch of government with the Board. There are eight members on the Wayne State University Board of Governors.

Board Chair Kim Trent called a special executive committee meeting regarding the Heart of Detroit (HOD) Tuition Policy since President Wilson failed to discuss the HOD Tuition Policy with the entire Board before he publicly announced the Policy.

Board Secretary Julie Miller’s emails state that Chair Trent called a special executive committee meeting (see emails from Secretary Miller attached). The special executive committee meeting was initially called for Wednesday, October 30, 2019 at 5 pm and since many Board members were not available on October 30th, an alternative date of the meeting was scheduled for yesterday, November 4, 2019 after the Health Affairs Subcommittee meeting.

A valid, special executive committee meeting was held yesterday with seven of the eight Board members attending the meeting. The Board members attending the meeting were Governors Michael Busuito, Dana Thompson, Sandra Hughes O’Brien, Anil Kumar, Kim Trent, Marilyn Kelly and Mark Gaffney.

Members of President Wilson’s administration gave a presentation about the HOD Tuition Policy. After listening to the presentation and hearing no good answer as to why the Board was not informed about the Policy prior to an hour and a half before the public announcement, Governors Busuito, Thompson, Hughes O’Brien and Kumar decided the best option was to terminate President Wilson for malfeasance.

Governor Busuito made the motion to terminate the president’s contract immediately, Governor Thompson seconded the motion, the floor was opened for discussion, then the members of the Board voted to terminate the president immediately unless he resigned by the end of the day Tuesday, November 5, 2019. The Michigan Constitution does not require the Board to take a formal vote at a public board meeting to remove the University’s president.

Board members voting for his termination were Governors Michael Busuito, Dana Thompson, Sandra Hughes O’Brien and Anil Kumar. Board Chair Kim Trent, Vice Chair Marilyn Kelly and Governor Mark Gaffney walked out of the meeting as the majority voted to terminate the President’s contract. Governor Bryan Barnhill was not at the Board meeting.

The vote that took place on Monday, November 4, 2019 at the special executive committee meeting was a valid Board decision to terminate a rogue, dangerous and nontransparent President. Again, personnel decisions do not have to be made at regular Board meetings in public. Personnel decisions may be made at Executive Committee meetings, including special executive committee meetings and only need to be reported out and not affirmed at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting.

Let’s be clear that we are not speaking about the merits of the HOD Tuition Policy. We are opposed to President Wilson’s abuse of his position and his abuse of the process. President Wilson’s mishandling of the HOD Policy reflects the most recent example of his poor leadership and inability to respect the will of the Board, his employer. President Wilson has engaged in a continuing pattern of questionable, covert deals that compromise the integrity of the University. President Wilson is a danger and disgrace to the University and these are the reasons the Board terminated his contract November 4, 2019.

Michael Busuito, MDAnil Kumar, MDSandy Hughes O’Brien, Esq.Dana Thompson, Esq.


Charles J. ParrishPresident, AAUP-AFT, Local 6075, WSU ChapterVice President-at-Large, AFT MichiganPresident, AAUP Michigan ConferenceMember-at-Large, National Council, AAUP5057 Woodward Avenue, Suite 3301Detroit, MI 48202313.577.1750