It is with very mixed emotions that I announce that Provost Keith Whitfield is leaving Wayne State University to assume the presidency at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I am always glad when talented, hard-working people are rewarded with greater opportunities, and UNLV is a just reward for Keith’s tremendous contributions to Wayne State — but Keith is a colleague and friend. While I am happy for this opportunity, and grateful for all he has done, I will miss him personally and professionally.
Keith became our provost on June 1, 2016, and since that time the academic enterprise has enjoyed great progress across a number of fronts, thanks in great part to his leadership and the team he has built around him. Under Keith’s direction, our FTIAC enrollment hit record highs. And, despite the pandemic, enrollment appears to be tracking positively again this year, especially for minority students. Some of these gains in enrollment are undoubtedly the result of the creativity by Keith and his enrollment and financial aid teams, which launched innovative and attractive programs like the Warrior Way Back and the Heart of Detroit. But perhaps his greatest legacy will be one of student success. During his tenure, we met our strategic plan six-year graduation rate goal one year ahead of schedule, and we tripled our African American graduation rate. This wasn’t luck. This was the result of leadership, investment and stewardship in many academic and administrative areas, as well as creative initiatives like the Warrior VIP program, virtual reality tours, and the new Warrior Road mobile application to aid in student success.
Keith’s dedication and commitment have benefited all of us — our students and the university as a whole. Wayne State’s innovative programs and student success have garnered national attention. Our faculty presence in the press has grown considerably, owing in part to Keith’s partnership in the Op Ed project. While we don’t chase rankings, we have seen progress here as well, including our inclusion in U.S. News and World Report’s Tier 1, since 2018.
UNLV has requested that Keith start in time for their fall semester, which begins in late August. Very soon, we will name an interim provost to step in when Keith departs, and we will begin the search process for a permanent provost immediately.
Keith has made an enormous positive difference at Wayne State, and he will be hard to replace. I know you all join me in wishing him well in his presidency at UNLV, and I know that even though he’s about to become a Rebel, he will always have the spirit of a Warrior.